Reshuffle of senior Vatican officials in Taiwan

Archbishop-designate Russell heads out amid talks between Holy See and Beijing
Reshuffle of senior Vatican officials in Taiwan

Archbishop John Hung, center, receives a bouquet to present to Archbishop-designate Paul Russell during the U.S. clergyman's farewell dinner. (Photo by Radio Veritas Asia/YouTube)

After eight years as the charge d'affaires at the Vatican embassy in Taiwan, Msgr. Paul Russell is returning to Rome as an archbishop-designate.

His archbishop-designate appointment by the pope includes the U.S.-born clergyman being assigned as nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Msgr. Sladan Cosic, who arrived in Taiwan in October, will replace Archbishop-designate Russell, whose episcopal consecration is scheduled for June 3.

The move is the latest in a reshuffle of senior church personnel in Taiwan amid ongoing talks between the Vatican and the Chinese government about the resuscitation of diplomatic ties cut when the Communists came to power in 1949.

Taiwan is a potential major complication in the talks with sources in China saying that Beijing does not want to upset the delicate balance with Taiwan as the island nation goes through a leadership change.

"Tailor-made"

Father Otfried Chan, secretary-general of the bishop's conference, said that Archbishop-designate Russell was a "tailor-made diplomat for Taiwan."

"He cares about the society and he integrated himself into the local church," said Father Chan.

Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, president of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference, praised Archbishop-designate Russell for facilitating the signing of an educational agreement between Taiwan and the Vatican. The agreement allows Fu Jen Faculty of Theology to become a formation institution of higher education for clergy from China. This is fulfilling a mission of the church in Taiwan to be a bridge between the church in China and the Vatican, said the archbishop.

Archbishop-designate Russell also assisted the Vatican to organize the ongoing Treasures from Heaven exhibition with the National Palace Museum, which exhibits papal relics, Archbishop Hung said.

Archbishop-designate Russell was also a strong advocate for human rights and social justice issues.

Before coming to Taiwan, Archbishop-designate Russell served the Holy See in Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland and Nigeria.

Watch this Radio Veritas Asia video above for highlights from Archbishop-designate Russell's farewell dinner, March 30.

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