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HEALTHCARE-ZIMOWSKI Apr-20-2009 (430 words) With photo. xxxi

Pope names Polish bishop as new head of Vatican's health care council

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named a Polish bishop who worked 19 years at the Vatican's doctrinal congregation as the new head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

The pope chose Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski of Radom to replace Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who retired as council president at age 76. With the appointment, the Polish prelate was also named an archbishop, the Vatican said April 18.

Archbishop Zimowski worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1983 to 2002 when it was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. When Archbishop Zimowski was named a bishop in 2002, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who ordained him in a Mass in the cathedral of Radom.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry promotes activities to help church agencies and individuals who serve the sick and suffering. Its work in recent years has overlapped with doctrinal questions, especially regarding bioethics and end-of-life issues in medical treatment.

At age 60, Archbishop Zimowski becomes the youngest prelate currently serving as head of a major department of the Roman Curia. Born in Kupienin, Poland, April 7, 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1973. He later earned a degree in dogmatic theology.

Archbishop Zimowski once recalled meeting then-Cardinal Ratzinger for the first time at an episcopal ordination in 1978 in Austria, where he was studying. After the Mass, he introduced himself to the cardinal.

Five years later, he was called to the Vatican's doctrinal congregation. Among the projects he worked on there was the Polish edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

After his appointment as bishop of Radom, he held a number of important positions in the Polish bishops' conference. He was president of the bishops' doctrinal commission, a delegate for Polish emigrants, a member of the ecumenical commission and part of a group overseeing Radio Maryja.

In addition to his native Polish, Archbishop Zimowski speaks Italian, German, English, French and Russian.

With this appointment, Pope Benedict has named four former officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as heads of curial offices. The others are Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state; U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, head of the doctrinal congregation; and Archbishop Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

In addition, last November the pope named as head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, who had a close working relationship with him as a member of the doctrinal congregation from 1995 to 2005.


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