Appointing of Bishops

Today a new bishop has been appointed to the Diocese of Waterford.  He is a relatively unknown priest of Limerick diocese. Now that he has been appointed, all we can do is wish him well, and hope that he will provide good leadership for the people and priests of Waterford. I knew him reasonably well during my later years in Limerick, when he was a newly ordained priest. All I will say is that if I was choosing a priest from Limerick diocese to follow the lead being given by Pope Francis, he would not be at the top of my list.

But a matter of much greater concern for the Irish Church is the manner in which bishops are being chosen by our current Papal Nuncio, Charles Brown. The policy would appear to be that he chooses someone from outside the diocese, and in most cases they have been priests with a good bit of pastoral experience.  That is a good thing. But the lack of consultation is a worry.  If the people and priests of Waterford were consulted about their new bishop, then it is clear that their views were not taken in to account. I doubt if many, or any, people in Waterford would have chosen this man from Limerick.  I suspect very few knew him at all. The exact same thing happened in many other recent appointments, e.g. Elphin, Kerry, Cloyne, and others.  I don’t know if the new Archbishop of Cashel was the choice of many in the archdiocese.

So the best we can say is that the Papal Nuncio, if he consults at all, does so within a very narrow and confined group. And also, putting all his appointments together, I believe it is true to say that most of them are more in the image of Benedict than Francis.

It is sad and depressing to see that, when there is some possibility of real reform in our Church, when we have a Pope who clearly values consultation and listening, that we here in Ireland have a Papal Nuncio who is more and more trying to restore the old ways in the Church.