Our Papal Nuncio

I was talking to a priest friend of mine in the United States this afternoon. Among other things he asked me how Archbishop Charles Brown was getting on as Papal Nuncio. This priest, he told me, knows somebody related to Brown, and that person was telling him that the Archbishop was very popular, doing very well, and loved by the people.
I suppose everyone has their own perspective. I have never met Charles Brown; neither has he met with the Association of Catholic Priests. That I find very strange. To be Nuncio to a country and not willing to meet with the leaders of a priests’ association which represents at least one third, maybe more, of the active priests, hardly makes much sense. If he really wanted to know the reality of life for the Church in Ireland today he would surely be talking to them.
He does mix freely with the traditional section of the Irish Church, going to places of pilgrimage and other liturgical events. He is clearly charming, and people are impressed when they meet him. But he carefully stays within his comfort zone, and avoids situations where he might be confronted with controversial issues.
I know he has been approached by some people with regard to my situation, but his answer is very safe and orthodox — the only way forward for me is to do what the CDF ask of me. That is no help.

The biggest difficulty with him is the appointment of bishops. He came to Ireland at a time when there were a good number of vacancies, and in the past two years he has made many appointments. It is extraordinary, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, that he adopts a policy of appointments that involves less consultation that ever before. In terms of episcopal appointments, the Church in Ireland is going backwards in a big way. Whatever consultation he does is ignored, since he has a policy of appointing men from outside the diocese. I would safely guess that, of the past half dozen episcopal appointments in Ireland, none of them was the choice of the priests or people of the diocese. Clearly he regards himself as knowing more about what type of leadership a diocese needs than do the faithful who live there.

So I told my American friends that I do not regard the Papal Nuncio as a positive presence in the Irish Church. I said he was more of the era of Benedict than of Francis — that collegiality was not a word that figured in his vocabulary.