Retired Bishop Andrew Pataki, 84, dies


PASSAIC, N.J. (CNS) — Retired Bishop Andrew Pataki of the Byzantine Diocese of Passaic died Dec. 8 after an automobile accident in New Jersey. He was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, about 60 miles from Passaic, where he died from his injuries. Bishop Pataki was 84.

A funeral liturgy was to be celebrated Dec. 15 at the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in Passaic. Interment was scheduled for the following day at Calvary Cemetery in Uniontown, Pa.

Bishop Pataki had headed the diocese from 1996 to 2008. Ordained a priest of the Passaic Diocese in 1952, he also served as auxiliary bishop of Passaic, 1983-84, and bishop of the Byzantine Diocese of Parma, Ohio, 1984-95.

Installed as bishop of Parma Aug. 16, 1984, he was named bishop of Passaic Nov. 6, 1995, and installed there Feb. 8, 1996.

The Passaic Diocese covers Byzantine and Ruthenian Catholics living in New England and on the East Coast.

Bishop Pataki was the former chairman of U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Relationship Between Eastern and Latin Catholic Churches.

He also was a regular presence at the Vigil for Life in Washington, leading rosaries or night prayer in the Byzantine tradition at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the night before the annual March for Life.

Bishop Pataki joined with his fellow Eastern Catholic bishops for a joint message on catechesis in 2005. In it, they said, “As parents do not wait until they have three children before they feed their firstborn, parishes cannot use their small numbers to excuse the absence of spiritual enrichment for those in their care.”

In 2006, he joined his fellow New Jersey bishops in advising state lawmakers against using same-sex civil unions as the remedy to solve other ills. “A need for justice … may indeed exist” in such areas as health and retirement programs, property rights, tax advantages and inheritance laws, they said. But “this need should not be determined solely on the basis of a sexual relationship.”

A year later, Bishop Pataki and the other New Jersey bishops called for a vote to abolish the death penalty. In 2001, they had urged a moratorium on capital punishment.