Church surprised by sudden resignations
Pope Francis surprised the Irish Church when he announced the resignation of two Irish bishops.
Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Bishop Seamus Freeman of Ossory both cited health concerns as their reason for stepping down three years early. The announcements were made last Friday.
While Bishop Drennan's decision to retire appears to have been unexpected, there had been mounting disquiet in the diocese of Ossory over Bishop Freeman's leadership in the face of a financial crisis linked to the spiralling costs of a renovation programme at St Mary's Cathedral in Kilkenny.
Disagreements and concerns over the management of the project had caused some members of the diocesan finance committee to resign last year.
Last January, Bishop Freeman instigated a listening process within the diocese in a bid to allow all sides to be heard.
However, the process is believed to have exacerbated tensions, with some clergy voicing strong criticism of Bishop Freeman's stewardship.
Separately, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, announced that Fr Fintan Monahan has been chosen as the new bishop of the west of Ireland diocese of Killaloe.
Bishop-elect Monahan previously served as diocesan secretary in the archdiocese of Tuam.