The new Papal nuncio to Ireland is due to arrive in Dublin today, as the Vatican tries to rebuild relations with the Irish government.
Archbishop Charles Brown, 52, an American who has previously served as a priest in the Bronx area of New York will arrive in Ireland as the newly appointed Vatican representative.
The Archbishop, a close friend and ally of Pope Benedict is widely regarded as a serious theologian, and now faces the difficult task of trying to patch up a difficult relationship between the Holy See and the Irish government.
Ireland recently closed its embassy in Rome in a cost cutting move, which came after diplomatic clashes over the child abuse scandals which have shaken the Catholic church.
Now it is hoped that Archbishop Brown will be able to mend fractured relationships and help to usher in a new era of friendship and co-operation.
A nuncio is a papal ambassador or representative, and most clerics given a post as Nuncio have been trained at the Vatican’s own diplomatic school.
But Archbishop Brown is different, having come from a position with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department which has been dealing with child abuse scandals since the early 1990s.
Before he became the head of the church, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and following his appointment as Pope Benedict, Archbishop Brown was appointed as a Chaplain to the Pope.
The Manhattan born Archbishop’s only previous visit to Ireland was to spend Christmas with friends as a student, a visit which saw him hitch-hiking around Ireland in the snow.
He told the Irish Times: “I have not seen anything yet. I have a steep mountain to climb and I hope to be there helping. As for reforms to the Irish church, I am agnostic about this. I need to study all that material and then talk to the Irish bishops.
“I know this is a society that has changed rapidly . . . that has experienced incredible economic prosperity and then problems, one that has moved from a country of emigration to immigration . . .
“The church was left behind the curve on all of that, the church has to modernise and to find new ways of presenting her message to people in this new context of the materialism and consumerism of a society that is now more similar to other European countries than it was in the 1980s.”
January 31st, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross