The Papal Nuncio is Departing

The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, on the news that Archbishop Charles Brown was being transferred from Ireland after six years as Papal Nuncio, praised his “energy, courtesy, openness, warmth and cooperativeness”. I suppose these are the sort of things that senior Church people say about each other, especially when they are departing the scene. Considering that I am on record as publicly stating that Archbishop Brown was the most destructive presence in the Irish Church, and calling for his removal, I can hardly call myself an objective commentator. But I find Eamon Martin’s words hard to accept, particularly ‘openness’ and ‘cooperativeness’. Yes, he was open and cooperative, but only to one section of the Irish Church. He was personable, presentable and a good speaker. He was regularly seen at Knock and various novenas. But he totally ignored the Church Reform groups, not even meeting with the Association of Catholic Priests. For someone who was here in Ireland as representative of Pope Francis, he was particularly reluctant to follow the Francis example of dialogue, and of reaching out to the margins, and to those who don’t always agree with you.
But the main reason why I described Archbishop Brown as a malign influence on the Irish Church was the policy he pursued in the appointment of bishop, twelve of whom were appointed during his years in the country. There was a minimum of consultation about appointments, and of the people who were appointed the majority of them came from a particular conservative branch of the Irish Church. He gave no leadership in creating the sort of dialogue at all levels of the Church in Ireland which Francis is clearly supporting.
So I will shed no tears at the departure of Archbishop Brown.
My hope is that Pope Francis is taking a personal interest in the Irish Church, and that his hand is on this change of Nuncio. We need someone who is open in the fullest sense of the word, who is willing to meet with, and dialogue with, all the different sections of our Church, and who gives a vigorous lead to our bishops that might encourage them to give courageous leadership in shaping the Church of Vatican 11 and Pope Francis.