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American priest to become papal nuncio in Ireland?

November 25, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI will soon name an American priest--his former aide at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--as apostolic nuncio to Ireland, according to reports in that country.

Informed sources in Rome say that Msgr. Charles Brown will be named to fill the vacant spot at the nunciature in Dublin. The Vatican has made no announcement about the opening.

The appointment of Msgr. Brown to the demanding post in Ireland would be an extraordinary move, since the American cleric is not a veteran of the Vatican diplomatic corps. By naming him to the demanding post in Dublin, Pope Benedict would be sending an unmistakable signal that he is taking a strong personal interest in the restoration of the Irish Church, which has seen a calamitous decline in Ireland, especially in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal.

Pope Benedict has a record of giving key positions to men with whom he is well acquainted. Msgr. Brown, who has worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1994, fills that description. And because the American priest worked in the Vatican office that has primary responsibility for clerical sex-abuse cases, he would be well equipped to deal with the Irish response to that crisis.

After a shocking series of revelations about sexual abuse there, Pope Benedict ordered an apostolic investigation of the Church in Ireland. The Vatican has not revealed the results of that inquiry, but there is widespread speculation that there will be a thorough reconfiguration of the Irish hierarchy. The apostolic nuncio, who coordinates the process of choosing new bishops, would be the key figure in that process.


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  • Posted by: KL Flannery - Nov. 26, 2011 10:51 AM ET USA

    This is official now: it appears today (Saturday) on the Vatican's website. Msgr. Brown will be titular archbishop of Aquileia. His doctoral disertation was on the spousal relationship between a bishop and his diocese!