Bishop John Buckley steps aside: An affable man, a kindly bishop

John Buckley, 79, has served the Catholic Diocese of Cork and Ross as bishop for over 20 years. 

It was announced yesterday that Pope Francis has appointed Dubliner Fr Fintan Gavin, 53, chancellor of the Dublin Archdiocese, to succeed Bishop Buckley who submitted his resignation to the Pope four years ago. 

Bishop Buckley’s leadership — he was ordained Titular Bishop of Leptis Magna and Auxiliary Bishop of Cork and Ross in 1984 — of the diocese ran almost parallel to the most traumatic period in the history of Irish Catholicism.

Because of this, the responsibilities assumed by Bishop Gavin yesterday bear little resemblance to those that faced John Buckley all those years ago.

In the 35 years he represented the hierarchy in Cork, Bishop Buckley showed exemplary modesty, human warmth and a deep and obviously genuine concern for others. 

He was affable, and utterly down to earth. He was an avuncular churchman of the old style and seemed far more interested in sports than the machinations of power. 

He had no obvious ambition, one so common among his peers, to dominate or control the community he lived in. 

This, and his unabashed and frequently expressed joy in being a Corkman — he was born in Inchigeela — made him a popular and uncontroversial figure. 

His affability meant he was fondly regarded — and respected — by those around him. He retires secure in the affections of those he served for such a very long time.

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