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A Vatican whodunnit

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 09, 2017

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, the great detective Hercule Poirot faces an unusual challenge. There are too many suspects—too many people with obvious motives for committing the crime.

That’s how I feel about the news that Archbishop Charles Brown, the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, is being transferred to Albania.

This is not a subtle move. The Vatican is explaining that it’s just a routine rotation; every now and then papal diplomats are given new assignments. That would make sense, except that:

  • Archbishop Brown is not a career diplomat. Pope Benedict sent him to Ireland, at a time of crisis for the faith, precisely because he trusted his orthodoxy.
  • When nuncios are moved, they are usually sent to assignments of equal or greater importance. A switch from Ireland to Albania is an unmistakable demotion.

Who would have wanted Archbishop Brown removed from Dublin?

- The Irish government, which is working to end the constitutional ban on abortion? Check.

- The Irish bishops, who don’t want pressure to act like Catholic leaders? Check.

- Liberal Irish priests, for the same reason? Check.

- The lavender mafia, always? Check.

- The Secretariat of State, which resented having a non-diplomat appointed as nuncio? Check.

- Pope Francis himself, who’s busy removing all Ratzinger loyalists? Check.

Too many suspects.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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