Vatican City (Fides Service) – The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II has (14 November 2003) accepted the renunciation of the pastoral government of the archdiocese of Saint Pierre and Fort-de-France (Martinique) presented by Archbishop Maurice Marie-Sainte in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, canon 401, 1.
The Holy Father has appointed (14 November 2003) Archbishop of Saint Pierre and Fort-de-France (Martinique) Reverend Michel Meranville, until now parish priest at Fort-de-France Cathedral.
The Archbishop elect was born on 4 February 1936 in Vauclin, Martinique. After his classical education in France he studied at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome for a degree in philosophy and a licentiate in theology. He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1959. Since then he has been: assistant priest and parish priest; high school chaplain, seminary chaplain and prison chaplain. Since 1981 he has been parish priest at Fort-de-France Cathedral.
The archdiocese of Saint Pierre and Fort-de-France (1967), is situated on the island of Martinique which is a French overseas territory. The island has reached a good level of social and economic development, thanks to a greater part to a boom in tourism. Evangelisation of Martinique began in the 17th century with Dominicans, Jesuits and Capuchins. Fort-de-France became a diocese in 1850 with the name of Martinique and the title of Sainte-Pierre. In 1967 it was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan Archdiocese. It has as suffragan dioceses, Basse-Terre and Ponte-a-Pitre (Guadelupa) and Cayenne (French Guyana).
The archdiocese of Saint Pierre and Fort-de-France has an area of 1,080 sq. km., and a population of 400,000 mostly of African origin. There are 298,000 Catholics gathered in 47 parishes (some without a resident priest), 62 priests (32 diocesan and 10 fidei donum and 20 Holy Ghost Fathers), 183 women religious of six different congregations. In the archdiocese there are two Benedictine communities male and female and the minor seminary in at Fort-de-France. (Fides Service 8/1/2004 EM lines 28 Words: 341)