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Gibraltar will have a new bishop

The Judicial Vicar of Malta, Monsignor Carmelo Zammit, is expected to be appointed as the new Bishop of Gibraltar later today. The Chronicle understands the Vatican will make the official announcement at midday at the same time as it is announced in Gibraltar.

The Rock has been without a Bishop for almost two years. Monsignor Zammit will succeed Bishop Ralph Heskett who was appointed Bishop of Hallam and who retained his commitment as the Diocese Administrator until today.

67 year old Monsignor Zammit is a frequent visitor to Gibraltar and is well known locally having spent more than 20 years here as a priest from 1976 to 1987. He was Parish Priest in both St Theresa's and Sacred Heart. He was just 26 years old when he first arrived on the Rock.

His appointment will be welcomed by many in Gibraltar who have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of a new bishop for nearly two years. The long wait has led to much speculation on several occasions.

Carmelo Zammit was born in Gudja in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1974 with a degree in Philosophy, Italian and Economics, and a Licentiate in Theology and in Canon Law.

Having finished his studies in Rome he was invited by then Bishop of Gibraltar to serve as a priest on the Rock. He was the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese during his time here and was also the Chaplain to both secondary schools.

On returning to Malta in 1998 he became the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Malta and was also a Judge in the Tribunal of Second Instance until 2007. He was then appointed assistant Judicial Vicar in the Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance.

Those close to the Church have often spoken of a shortlist of names having been put forward for consideration recent months. Monsignor Zammit’s name seemed to feature prominently on these occasions. Then final list of three names is understood to have been forwarded to the Vatican by the Apostolic Nuncio, as is normally the case, for consideration and for the final seal of approval by Pope Francis himself.

Although unconfirmed the other names are believed to have been priests from the UK, one at least with connections with Gibraltar, and at one point there was also a suggestion that a local name had been on the list.