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Nuncio seeks to mend fences

23 February 2012

by Gregg Ryan, Ireland Correspondent

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).

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