AMID many conciliatory speeches, the new Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles John Brown (News, 13 January), presented his credentials to President Michael D. Higgins, and preached a sermon at the Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral in Dublin at the weekend.
An American, Archbishop Brown comes not from the Vatican’s diplomatic ranks but, rather, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly headed by the present Pope, Benedict XVI, which is pledged to rebuild the fractured relationship between the government and the Holy See in the wake of the child sexual-abuse scandals in the Irish RC Church.
“At this very significant moment in my mission here in Ireland, I wish to assure you that it is Pope Benedict’s fervent desire that I, as his representative, will do everything in my power to solidify and strengthen the relations between the Holy See and Ireland,” the Archbishop said.
On Sunday, the RC Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, expressed confidence that the Irish government would, in time, reopen the embassy to the Holy See, which was closed last year, albeit in a “leaner” style. The current Ambas-sador, David Cooney, secretary-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, continues to reside in Dublin.
On Monday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, reiterated the government’s stance, and said that the issue of the embassy closure would not be reversed. It would seem that any change in this position would depend on the sharing of one building by the Italian and Holy See embassies, to which the Holy See is opposed.
Archbishop Brown’s predecessor, Archbishop Guiseppe Leanza, departed from Ireland at the height of the war of words between the Irish government and the Holy See last year. He returned to Rome for “consultations”, and later re-emerged as Nuncio to the Czech Republic in Prague (News, 11 November 2011).