Pope Francis raised the apostolic exarchate for the Catholic devotees of the byzantine rite living in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia into an eparchy, giving the new district the name of “Blessed Virgin of the Assumption in Strumica-Skopje”, and appointed mgr. Kiro Stojanov, bishop of Skopje, until now the apostolic exarch of the district, as the eparchy’s first bishop. The news was relayed at the same time in the Vatican and in Skopje, where the apostolic nuncio, mgr. Anselmo Guido Pecorari, announced the Holy Father’s decision to mgr. Stojanov and to the Macedonian priests, gathered in the bishopric. Mgr. Stoyanov, who was an exarch so far, is raised into an eparch but will still be the bishop of the Catholics of the Latin rite in Macedonia. In the Balkan country, Catholics amount to 1% on a population of slightly more than 2 million, i.e. 20 thousand, 15 thousand of whom follow the Byzantine rite and 5 thousand follow the Latin rite. Mgr. Kiro Stoyanov has been leading Macedonian Catholics since 2005; the exarchate was created by Pope John Paul II in 2001; until then, the devotees belonged to the diocese of Krizevci (Croatia), which included all the devotees of the Byzantine rite in former Yugoslavia.