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Nation’s First Black Archbishop, Eugene Marino of Atlanta, Resigns

July 10, 1990

ATLANTA (AP) _ Archbishop Eugene A. Marino, the nation’s first black archbishop and its highest ranking black Roman Catholic, resigned his position today, citing health reasons.

Marino said in a statement that he needs ″an extended period of spiritual renewal, psychological therapy and medical supervision.″ He added that ″the church of Atlanta needs a shepherd ... who is healthy.″

The archbishop had temporarily relinquished his duties in May because of severe stress and a near heart attack. Marino, 56, was recuperating at a New York area resort.

The Rev. Peter Dora, Atlanta Archdiocese spokesman, said the Most Rev. James P. Lyke was appointed apostolic administrator, and that officials did not know when a new archbishop would be appointed. Lyke also is black.

Marino was ordained in 1962 and consecrated as a bishop in 1974. He has been the archbishop of Atlanta since May 1988.

Marino said he hopes to recover and be able to serve the church in a ″less demanding capacity.″

The Vatican announced today that Pope John Paul II has accepted Marino’s resignation as well as that of Bishop Leo T. Maher of San Diego. Maher underwent surgery this spring for a malignant brain tumor and he is 75, the customary retirement age for bishops. He will be succeeded by Monsignor Robert H. Brom, who was appointed coadjutor last year.

Maher was in the news in November when he denied communion to a Roman Catholic California state assemblywoman after she ran campaign advertisements favoring abortion rights. The candidate, Lucy Killea, used the ban as a rallying point and narrowly won election to the California Senate.

The pope also named the Rev. Francis George to become bishop of Yakima, Wash. The Vatican said he would replace the Rev. William S. Skylstand, who was transferred to Spokane, Wash., in April.

George, 53, holds a doctorate in theology and since 1987 has been a member of the Cambridge Center for the Study of Faith and Culture in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Marino came to Atlanta from Washington, D.C., where he was auxiliary bishop.

Lyke, 51, is a native of Chicago and a Franciscan priest with a doctorate in theology from Union Graduate School in Cincinnati.

Before being named auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, he served as a pastor in Memphis, Tenn., and as a campus minister at Grambling State University in Louisiana.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta covers 69 counties in northern Georgia with a Catholic population of more than 150,000.

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