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Pittsburgh archbishop gets Vatican honor

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 1:09 p.m.
Pittsburgh Archbishop William C. Skurla, metropolitan archbishop for the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, was nominated to serve on the Vatican's Congregation for the Oriental Churches by Pope Francis, according to an announcement on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, by the Vatican.

Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed Pittsburgh Archbishop William Charles Skurla of the Byzantines to serve on the Vatican's Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which oversees development of churches in some of the world's most volatile regions.

Skurla was enthroned in 2012 as the fifth Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archepathy of Pittsburgh and the head of the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Munhall.

A native of Minnesota, Skurla previously served as bishop of two other Byzantine eparchies, or dioceses, in Phoenix and Passaic, N.J.

“It's a great honor to serve on the Congregation for Eastern Churches,” Skurla said. “Like all the congregations, it helps the Holy Father to listen to the needs of the members of the Catholic Church.”

The main concern, he said, is religious persecution in the Middle East and the problems in Ukraine, which he called “out of control.” The plight of Copts in Egypt, where churches have been destroyed, is an example of Middle East persecution.

Skurla is well recognized in the United States for his leadership of the Eastern churches, said Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik.

“I know he's an outstanding man,” Zubik said. “It doesn't surprise me in the least that the Holy Father would appoint him to be a member of that congregation.”

Also appointed Wednesday was the Very Rev. George D. Gallaro as a consultor for the Congregation. A canon lawyer, he is the temporary rector of St. Cyril & Methodius Seminary on the North Side and the judicial vicar for the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

The Congregation of the Oriental Churches assists in the development of Catholic churches in Egypt and the Sinai peninsula, Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia, Southern Albania and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Turkey, according to the Vatican.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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