VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appointed Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher as apostolic nuncio in Burundi to fill the post of the murdered Archbishop Michael Courtney.
Until now, Monsignor Gallagher has been Special Envoy with the functions of permanent observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. He will be raised to the dignity of archbishop, the Vatican press office said today.
Irish-born Archbishop Courtney was killed in an ambush Dec. 29 in Minago, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Bujumbura, the Burundian capital.
The new papal representative, a native of Liverpool, England, will be 50 on Friday. Ordained a priest in 1977, he obtained a licentiate in canon law before entering the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1984. He was appointed to the apostolic nunciature of Tanzania as attache.
He later served in the apostolic nunciatures of Uruguay and the Philippines, as well as in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s Section for Relations with States.
In July 2000 he was appointed Special Envoy to the Council of Europe, a post once held by Michael Courtney.
The rebel National Liberation Forces has been accused of killing Archbishop Courtney. It has denied the charge and instead blamed the army. The NLF has boycotted peace talks aimed at ending the central African country’s decade-long civil war.
Today, the Italian newspaper Avvenire reported that the investigation into the ambush killing might be entrusted to an international commission. This was a principal decision of a meeting between Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye of Burundi and a NLF delegation, held in the Dutch city of Oisterwijk.