Baton Rouge's Next Catholic Bishop Introduced


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The next Catholic bishop of Baton Rouge spoke in Spanish at his introduction to emphasize his message that all members are welcome in the church.

Bishop Michael Gerard Duca of Shreveport told people at a news conference Tuesday in Baton Rouge that he wished he could also have spoken in Vietnamese, The Advocate reported .

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Then he translated his message into English: "I want them to know that they are part of our family. We are one church."

And, he said, "Even though there may be a great difference in culture, there is one church language, the language of Mass, the language of sacraments, the language of prayer. The rest is lagniappe that I'll have to learn along the way."

The Vatican announced the 66-year-old Duca on Tuesday as its choice to replace Bishop Robert Muench, who announced his retirement when he turned 75 late last year.

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Duca grew up and was ordained in Dallas, where he was a priest at multiple churches, then vocations director for that diocese and then rector of Holy Trinity seminary.

News outlets report that his installation as bishop of the Baton Rouge Diocese is tentatively scheduled Aug. 24.

Duca said he did not know why he was chosen. He said he has found joy and blessings in all of his appointments during 40 years as a priest, though he often was puzzled by them.

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In recent weeks, the Archdiocese of New Orleans paid more than $500,000 to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit, and law enforcement in St. Landry Parish said a priest in the Lafayette Diocese had turned himself in and confessed to sexually abusing a teenage boy.

Duca said that if any similar allegations came up in Baton Rouge, he would "be open, and transparent about the accusation, speak about it," Duca said.

He said that would include immediate removal of any priest or church worker "who is a victimizer" and letting people in the parish know about the allegations so other possible victims could come forward.

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