Priests are angered by lack of consultation


The lack of consultation in the process which led to the appointment of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as Coadjutor to Dublin has been criticised by many senior priests in the diocese. Patsy McGarry reports.

A related survey last week by The Irish Times found that the candidates most favoured by Dublin priests to succeed Cardinal Connell as Archbishop included Bishop Jim Moriarty and Bishop Eamonn Walsh, before Archbishop Martin.

The survey was undertaken following complaints from Dublin priests about lack of consultation in the process then under way to select a successor to Cardinal Connell. As far as they were aware, only the 16 deans of the archdiocese had been consulted on the matter by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Lazzarotto.

Last Thursday, one senior priest, for instance, described this as "very offensive" and said it was "quite outrageous parish priests were not consulted".

Younger priests too, would have to live with the decision, he said. Then there were the religious and the laity. "What about them?" he asked. The process was "a dereliction of duty and totally against the spirit of Vatican II". It was "very objectionable from a pastoral and ecclesial point of view".

Other priests were completely disinterested in the process, believing their views didn't matter. They were content to leave it to the Holy Spirit.

By Friday last, the survey had established that a majority of the 67 priests spoken to favoured either Bishop Jim Moriarty, appointed Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin last year, or Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Apostolic Administrator of Ferns diocese, as next Archbishop of Dublin. Bishop Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick, also had considerable support. Some priests suggested Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe should be transferred to Dublin.

The newly-appointed Coadjutor archbishop had the support of a substantial number, if not as many as the two front runners.

Those favouring him emphasised his experience of and ease with a wider world, his non-doctrinaire orthodoxy, his communications skills and, for quite a few, his absence from Dublin since 1976. Practically all emphasised the necessity for pastoral experience in the next Archbishop.

It was intended to survey as many priests as possible in the approximately 200 parishes of the Dublin archdiocese. By Friday, when it was confirmed definitively to The Irish Times that Dr Martin was to be appointed, contact had been attempted (and was to be repeated where unsuccessful) with 112 parishes, in alphabetical order.

All priests were called in each, but many were out. Messages were not left to help avoid possible campaigns for/against individuals.

On Thursday night, a source assured this reporter that Dr Martin's appointment had been decided on and was to be announced over the weekend. On Friday afternoon this was confirmed by another reliable source. The survey was then discontinued.