The Bishop of Tortosa, Enrique Benavent: "I'm coming home"

Yesterday, the Apostolic Nunciature communicated the decision of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to appoint Msgr. Enrique Benavent Vidal, Bishop of Tortosa, as Archbishop of Valencia.

The Vicar General José Luis Arín read the official communication yesterday at noon in the Gothic hall of the episcopal palace of Tortosa, in front of the College of Consultors, the Cathedral Chapter and the members of the Diocesan Curia. Then, the Bishop of Tortosa, Enrique Benavent, addressed a few words of thanks to the Diocese of Tortosa for all these years and a greeting to the Archdiocese of Valencia, which is Benavent's native diocese.

His inauguration will be on December 10 at the Cathedral of Valencia. Benavent will replace the current Archbishop Antonio Cañizares, who will remain as diocesan apostolic administrator until his inauguration. At the moment it is unknown who will be Benavent's successor as the new Bishop of Tortosa. Benavent arrived in Tortosa in the summer of 2013 replacing Bishop Javier Salinas.

Benavent declared yesterday that in Tortosa he has always felt “at home”: “For me it has been a rewarding experience. The atmosphere in the Bishopric and in the towns was not strange to me and I have seen similarities with the faith that I had seen in the Diocese of Valencia. It is a more familiar Bishopric and with the priests we have a relationship of familiarity », he explained.

Benavent visited all the towns that make up the Diocese of Tortosa, which brings together a very large territory, between Catalonia and the Valencian Community: from the Ribera de Ebro and towns of Priorat through Baix Ebre and Montsià and up to Maestrat and Els Ports , in the north of Castellón. Precisely that border character can be a challenge for his successor: «If he is Catalan, something Valencian must be done. And if he is Valencian he will have to become a little Catalan », he joked.

The Bishop was satisfied with the work carried out by the Bishopric of Tortosa in terms of the rehabilitation and maintenance of its rich heritage, a job "that never ends". Among the main works, the cleaning and restoration of the façade of the Cathedral of Tortosa stands out without a doubt, which, together with the new square built in front by the City Council of Tortosa, have configured a whole new space to contemplate the beauty of the temple. "It has been a great asset and has changed the image of the city," he said. The Bishopric of Tortosa has also carried out, together with the Provincial Councils of Tarragona and Castellón, other restorations, such as the altarpiece of Santa Ana, the cleaning of the main altarpiece or the image of the Virgen de la Cinta. But also performances in many parishes in small towns that often lack their own resources.

However, during these years Benavent has lived through the illness and death of his parents, the independence process and the Covid pandemic. Times that have not been easy. "But here in Tortosa we have had the great fortune of respecting the political options of each person," he explained. Besides, Benavent valued that the great challenge of the Bishoprics is the generational change and the vocations. The Bishop considered that the appointment is "quite a challenge", but that he faces him with "going home", since it is in Valencia where he has carried out a large part of his ecclesiastical career, teaching Theology for 20 years and serving as auxiliary bishop between 2007 and 2013.

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