CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Vatican makes diplomatic reshuffle in Taiwan

TAIPEI (UCAN): After eight years as the chargé d’affaires at the Vatican embassy in Taiwan, Monsignor Paul Russell is leaving as an archbishop-designate.

As a gesture of appreciation from the government, the foreign minister, David Lin, conferred on him the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, one of the highest decorations, on April 8.

After ordination as a bishop in Rome on June 3, the American diplomat is set to be assigned as the nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Monsignor Sladan Cosic, who arrived in Taiwan from Chad in October, will replace Monsignor Russell.

The move is the latest in a reshuffle of Church diplomatic personnel in Taiwan amid ongoing talks between the Holy See and Beijing over the resuscitation of relationships between the two.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong on March 31, the author of the Pope Francis’ Lunar New Year greeting to the Chinese people, Francesco Sisci, pointed out that although the diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Holy See have been seen as a complication in relations between China and the Vatican, Beijing is quite happy with the diplomatic balance in Taiwan.

Father Otfried Chan, the secretary-general of the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, described Monsignor Russell is a tailor-made diplomat. “He cares about the society and he integrated himself into the local Church,” Father Chan commented.

Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, the president of the conference, praised him for facilitating the signing of an education agreement between Taiwan and the Vatican.

It allows the Fu Jen Faculty of Theology to become a formation institution of higher education for priests, seminarians or sisters from China. The archbishop said this is fulfilling a mission for Taiwan as a bridge between the Church in China and the Vatican.

Archbishop Hung pointed out that Monsignor Russell also assisted in organising the ongoing Treasures from Heaven exhibition with the National Palace Museum, which includes papal relics.

 

He was also a strong advocate for human rights and social justice issues. Before coming to Taiwan, Monsignor Russell served as a diplomat in Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland and Nigeria.

More from this section