POPE Benedict is to reshape the church here, with two more bishops to be appointed within weeks after the Diocese of Cloyne finally got its new bishop.
The Pope chose St Colman's Day, feast of Cloyne's patron saint, to confirm the appointment of Canon William Crean (60) as successor to Dr John Magee in the sprawling Cork diocese.
Significantly, he chose a senior cleric noted for his outstanding parish abilities rather than a Vatican-based academic.
Church officials stressed that the emphasis on pastoral ability reflects the Pope's determination to "reshape and renew the Irish Church".
Six other Irish dioceses either have no bishop or have prelates serving beyond their retirement age.
Papal Nuncio Dr Charles Brown, who attended the Cork announcement ceremony with the Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, declined to discuss other impending appointments.
However, church sources confirmed to the Irish Independent that lists of recommended candidates for the vacant bishoprics are being considered by the Vatican.
Priority is set to be given to the dioceses of Limerick and Kildare & Leighlin, both of whom have been without bishops for over three years.
Derry, Ardagh & Clonmacnoise, Elphin and Kerry, are to get new bishops in 2013.
Canon Crean will be installed early in the New Year. A native of Tralee and Parish Priest of Cahirciveen for the past six years, he admitted he was "apprehensive" about the new role, given the trauma in Cloyne over clerical child abuse.
The diocese is still reeling from Judge Yvonne Murphy's devastating report, which revealed that children had been left at risk by the failure to implement the church's own child protection guidelines.
One cleric, known by the pseudonym 'Fr Ronat', was the focus of 11 separate complaints.
Cloyne has been without a bishop for almost four years after Dr John Magee, a private secretary to three Popes, first stepped aside and then resigned over the controversy.
Canon Crean was ordained in 1976, studied at the Irish College and Gregorian University in Rome before returning to Kerry to undertake pastoral work.
He is regarded as "a safe pair of hands" and extremely media savvy, given that he was a founding director of Radio Kerry.
"I am apprehensive because I am deeply conscious of the trauma of these years past," he said.
"So much suffering endured by young people at the hands of a few. Sufferings compounded by the failure of those who didn't believe them and of those who didn't hear their cry for help.
"Today, I commit myself to do all that I can with others in the diocese to continue to bring healing and new hope to the lives of all victims of abuse and their families," he said.
"One thing I ask, however, is your patience to allow me time to grasp the full measure of this deep hurt."
Dr Dermot Clifford, who has been administering the diocese since March 2009, hailed Canon Crean as "a man of the people."
"The Bishop of Kerry, Dr William Murphy, said that "Kerry's loss is Cloyne's gain."
Cloyne has a Catholic population of more than 150,000 people and comprises 46 parishes. However, the diocese is struggling with the fall-out from the abuse scandals, with multiple compensation settlements for victims.