Michael Courtney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Styles of
Michael Courtney
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop
Posthumous style not applicable

The Most Reverend Michael Courtney (5 February 1945 – 29 December 2003) was the Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi and Titular Archbishop of Eanach Dúin

Michael Aidan Courtney was born in Summerhill, Nenagh, County Tipperary. He entered Clonfert Seminary and was ordained a priest on 9 March 1968. He entered the Holy See's diplomatic service in 1980, working at nunciatures in South Africa, Senegal, India, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Egypt. He was named the Special Envoy and Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on 30 December 1995.

Pope John Paul II appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi and Titular Archbishop of Eanach Dúin on 18 August 2000. He received episcopal ordination on 12 November 2000 at St Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh from Francis Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with Bishops John Kirby and William Walsh as co-consecrators.

Death and funeral[edit]

In December 2003, as he returned to Bujumbura from pastoral duties, gunmen fired at his car as he passed Minago, a town about 30 miles south of the capital. Archbishop Courtney suffered gunshot wounds to the head, shoulder and leg and died from hemorrhaging during surgery. He was 58 years old.[1] Archbishop Courtney had been instrumental in the previous month's signing of a peace agreement between the Burundian government and the main opposition Hutu group.[2] The militant Hutu group Forces for National Liberation, which had refused to sign the agreement, denied murdering Courtney.[3]

The funeral Mass was concelebrated by Cardinals Arinze and Connell, Archbishop Seán Brady, Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Lazzarotto, and other prominent bishops and clerics from throughout Ireland. Minister for Defence Michael Smith represented the Government of Ireland at the funeral Mass and burial. At Courtney's funeral Mass, Cardinal Arinze stated:

"Nuncio Courtney preached mutual love, Christian reconciliation, harmony and unity between people. He made his own the exhortation of St Paul to the Corinthians: 'We are ambassadors for Christ: it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ's name is: be reconciled to God' (2 Cor 5: 20). It is tragic that this very witness of the love of Christ, this ambassador of the Pope who daily manifested the concern of the Successor of Saint Peter for all citizens of Burundi, is shot dead by the very people he was serving."[4]

Archbishop Courtney was buried at Dromineer on the shores of Lough Derg, County Tipperary, near his native Nenagh.[5][6]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Emil Paul Tscherrig
Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi
18 August 2000–29 December 2003
Succeeded by
Paul Gallagher
Preceded by
John Jerome Cunneen
Titular Bishop of Eanach Dhúin
18 August 2000–29 December 2003
Succeeded by
Octavio Cisneros


  1. ^ New York Times coverage of killing of papal diplomat Michael Courtney in Burundi, 30 December 2003.
  2. ^ "God's ambassadors". The Economist. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Burundi rebels threaten Bishop". BBC News. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  4. ^ Funeral of Michael Courtney, vatican.va
  5. ^ Irish Times coverage of killing of papal diplomat Michael Courtney, a Tipperary native
  6. ^ [1]