New Bishop of Killaloe announced

 

The Pope has formally accepted the resignation of Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh, it was announced today.

A statement from the Irish Bishops' Conference said Pope Bendict XVI had appointed the Rev Kieran O'Reilly as the new Bishop of Killaloe.

Bishop Walsh had already tendered his resignation, having passed the retirement age (75) stipulated by canon law. Three other bishops over 75 have also letters of resignation to Rome: the Bishop of Clogher Joseph Duffy, Auxiliary Bishop of Derry Francis Lagan, and Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O’Reilly.

Born in Cork in 1952, Fr O'Reilly joined the Society of African Missions in 1970 and was later ordained a priest in 1978. He then carried out two years of pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Monrovia, Liberia, before returning to Rome to complete his Biblical studies.

He lectured for five years in that subject in in Nigeria from 1984 to 1988. More recently, he has served as superior general of the Society of African Missionaries.

Cardinal Seán Brady paid tribute to Dr Walsh, describing him as a bishop who “is never afraid to speak out and to use his talent in communication to speak for the poor and the marginalised in our society or when it came to issues of injustice and wrongdoing.”

He also congratulated Fr O’Reilly. “He is well aware of the deep faith of the people of the diocese and I have no doubt that he can count on their prayers and support as he takes on his new role as bishop,” he said.

In January, Dr Walsh formally handed in his resignation letter to Pope Benedict on turning 75 and the process to choose his successor got under way, with the diocese’s 100 priests voting on who should succeed him.

At a civic reception held in his honour in Ennis in March to mark his 16 years as Bishop of Killaloe, he said the position of Irish bishops was now hazardous for sad reasons and at risk from possibly some mistake made 20 to 50 years ago.

Reflecting on his time as bishop, Dr Walsh said: “I found it a heavy responsibility but . . . tried to be open and honest and transparent at all times and I hope that I managed to get to the end of it.”

There have been a raft of other high profile departures from the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland in the last year, some of which came in the wake of inquiries into clerical child sex abuse scandals.

Bishop James Moriarty’s resignation from the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin was accepted last month over the mishandling of allegations during his time in the Dublin Archdiocese.

The cleric followed former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee and former Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray out of office amid criticism of their handling of allegations.

Bishop Duffy last month stepped down as head of the Diocese of Clogher, and Bishop Lagan left his post as Auxiliary in Derry after they both reached 75. While they retired under Vatican age rules, Bishop Duffy left under a cloud after apologising in March for failing to properly report allegations of child abuse against a priest.

The future of Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field, who offered their resignations last Christmas Eve in the wake of the Murphy report on the sex abuse scandals, has not been revealed.

Additional reporting PA