News archive 2002

Pope appoints Belfast-born priest as new Bishop of the Forces for UK

Pope appoints Belfast-born priest as new Bishop of the Forces for UK

Belfast -born Monsignor Tom Burns has been appointed the new Catholic Bishop of the Forces for the UK by Pope John Paul II.

He will take over from Bishop Francis Walmsley – the Catholic Bishop of the Forces since 1979 who tendered his resignation because he will be 75 this year.

Monsignor Burns will be consecrated Bishop by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on June 18 at St Michael & St George Cathedral, Aldershot.

He is currently Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain and Vicar General for the Royal Navy – a role he has held since May 1998.

Mgr. Burns, 57, said: “It is a great honour to be asked by the Pope to become the sixth Bishop of the Forces.

“In the context of a fast-changing society and the rapidly-changing world of the Armed Forces, the task ahead will be a very challenging one. . . Serving personnel, including Chaplains, are subject to much turmoil and churn, arising out of Service commitments. Their families and dependants feel severely the knock-on effects and anxieties of increasing demands made upon them in their daily lives.”

He added: “The Service Church is a microcosm of the Universal Church and so it will be one of my major objectives to ensure that we all act in solidarity to meet issues and crises together as they occur – and at the same time develop in harmony the Kingdom of God in our midst as best we can.”

24 May 2002

Further information on this appointment may be obtained from Oliver Wilson at the Catholic Communications Service in London (0044 207 901 4803) and on the News Page of the Catholic Communications Office Website –

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