Papal visit to Ireland a possiblity, says Papal Nuncio

The Papal Nuncio to Ireland has said a papal visit is “possible”.

On a visit to Moyross in Limerick, Archbishop Charles Brown, the Pope’s representative in Ireland, also said the Vatican is doing “everything possible” to deal with senior Church figures involved in the cover-up of clerical child sexual abuse.

He was responding to a call by Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley for the Vatican to immediately tackle the case of an American Bishop convicted of shielding an abusive priest.

Archbishop Brown said the Vatican is currently following through on these types of cases.

“Absolutely [it is]. For the last 15 or 20 years, certainly, since under Pope Benedict, the Holy See has taken an extremely serious view of these cases.”

He added, the Vatican was doing “everything possible to assess [these cases], to judge them, and to bring justice [to the victims].”

Cardinal O’Malley told CBS show 60 Minutes that, “the Holy See needs to urgently address” the question of Bishop Robert Finn.

Cardinal O’Malley is the president of the Pope’s new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which is leading the Vatican’s efforts to recover from the clerical child sexual abuse sandals.

Robert Finn remains head of the Catholic diocese in Kansas City, Missouri, two years after he pleaded guilty to failing to tell police that one of his priests was sexually abusing a minor.

The church in the US has paid out nearly $3bn (€2.4bn) in compensation to victims of clerical sex abuse.

Asked if an Irish papal visit could become a reality, Archbishop Brown, who celebrated mass in Corpus Christi Church in Moyross, said there were “many links” between Pope Francis and the Irish people.

“Absolutely Ireland is close to his heart. He studied here in the 1970s. I was with Pope Francis in July and had a long meeting with him, just the two of us, and he spoke with great affection about Ireland.”

Archbishop Brown, a native of New York, said it was “terrific” that the Irish Government had re-opened its direct links with the Vatican by reinstating an ambassador to the Holy See last week. Emma Madigan met Pope Francis last Tuesday to hand him her “letter of credentials” before taking up her important role.

“It’s terrific news, it’s fantastic news. That’s really the reason why one wants to have a residential ambassador in Rome, so that the perspective and the point of view of the Irish Government can be presented directly to the Holy See, to Pope Francis, and those who work for him in the Holy See.

“So, for me, it is a tremendously encouraging and incredibly positive to have ambassador Madigan there in the Holy See,” Archbishop Brown said.


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