Papal nuncio ‘out of sync’ with Irish reality, say priests

Catholic Priests rail against Archbishop Charles Brown over selection of bishops

A group which claims to represent almost a third of Ireland's Catholic priests has severely criticised papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown over his selection of bishops. It just stopped short of asking for him to be replaced.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said it was “reluctant to call for Archbishop Brown’s removal” but felt it “instructive that his appointment was a central part of Rome’s response to the problems of the Irish Church”.

Archbishop Brown's appointment by Pope Benedict in November 2011 followed the publication of four reports into clerical child sex abuse.

It “was widely interpreted as an opportunity of disciplining the Irish Church” the ACP has said.

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Since his arrival in Ireland, Archbishop Brown has been involved with the appointment of 10 bishops and is in the process of appointing six more.

“That’s 16 (or 60 per cent) of the 26 dioceses in Ireland,” the ACP noted.

‘Grave disquiet’

It also repeated criticisms that it previously levelled at him. The policies he pursued in choosing bishops were, “in the main, inadequate to the needs of our time, at odds with the expectations of people and priests and out of sync with the new church dispensation, ushered in by the election of

Pope Francis

over three years ago and the changed perspective of his renewed commitment to the spirit of the Second

Vatican Council

, ” the ACP said.

It expressed “grave disquiet” at the “lack of consultation” involved, as well as a “preference for candidates drawn from a particular mind-set”.

There was also what it described as “an apparently haphazard policy of appointments to distant dioceses that pays little regard to the traditions and heritage of a diocese; and the choice of candidates who seem to be out of sync with the realities of life in Ireland today and uncomfortable with the openness of Pope Francis to change and reform the Church,” it said.

The ACP also regretted that Archbishop Brown refused to meet them “though the issue at hand is of compelling concern not just to our own membership – we represent over 30 per cent of Irish priests – but to the vast majority of Irish priests”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times