Association of Catholic Priests Statement
on the Appointment of the Papal Nuncio
Saturday, 13 May 2017
We welcome Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo as Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland and we wish him well in his new responsibilities.
One of his first tasks will be the appointment of a number of bishops, including to dioceses vacant for some years. Our hope is that those chosen will reflect the very different style of leadership being modelled by Pope Francis.
The words and actions of Pope Francis challenge the Irish Church to reflect the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and give us great courage and hope for the future. It is no secret that under the last Nuncio, Francis’ vision of an open Church was not reflected in the appointment of bishops.
During that time there has been, with one or two exceptions, a clear lack of leadership from Irish bishops, even a marked reluctance to follow the example of Pope Francis.
We believe that this is due to the fact that for more than a generation candidates for bishoprics were taken only from a small section of priests safe, compliant, ultra-orthodox men.
While these are admirable in many respects the men lacked the vision, the energy, and the leadership qualities to engage the hearts and minds of our people and to engage competently and persuasively in the public forum.
Our reluctant conclusion, but a conclusion obvious in present-day Ireland, is that in the appointment of bishops in recent years, men with either vision or leadership ability were largely excluded from consideration. Analytical and critical perspectives have not been welcome in the Irish Church and recent history illustrates the high price our Church has paid for that overly cautious approach to bishops’ appointments.
We wish Archbishop Okolo every blessing in his work and look forward to meeting him in due course.