By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis expressed his condolences in a telegram on Tuesday, having learnt “with sadness” of the death of Archbishop Henri Tessier, the Archbishop emeritus of Algiers.
The message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, conveys the Pope’s closeness and blessings to those affected by the Archbishop’s death, including his family and friends, as well as the Bishops and the faithful of Oran and Algiers.
Pope Francis remembered Archbishop Tessier as a generous pastor who was able to go through the trying times experienced by the Church of Algeria “with courage and an evangelical spirit” as well as a “man of dialogue and peace” who worked for a “respectful and fraternal unity between the Algerian people.”
The Pope ended his message by entrusting the late Archbishop to God, asking that He receive Archbishop Tessier “into the peace and light of His Kingdom” through the intercession of Our Lady of Africa, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and the blessed martyrs of Algeria.
Born in Lyon, France, in 1929, Henri Tessier was ordained a priest for the diocese of Algiers in March 1955.
After studies at the Carmelite Seminary Paris, he went on to study Arabic at the Dominican Institute in Cario, Egypt.
He was ordained Bishop of Oran in 1973 and subsequently appointed Coadjutor Archbishop to the Archbishop of Algiers in 1980. In 1988, he succeeded Cardinal Duval as the Archbishop of Algiers, where he served till his retirement in 2008. He died in Lyon on 1 December 2020, the liturgical feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld at the age of 91.
A life of service
Archbishop Tessier dedicated most of his life to the service of the Church in Algeria. Profoundly linked to the country, he obtained Algerian citizenship in 1966. During his years as the Archbishop of Algiers, he worked closely with the Algerian faithful during the terrible crisis of the 1990s, during which time thousands of people were killed, including Bishop Pierre Lucien Claverie of Oran, 19 men and women religious of the local Catholic Church, and seven monks of Tibhirine.
He is regarded as one of the authoritative representatives of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Islam.