Pope's new envoy faces huge task
A NEW era in relations with the Vatican began yesterday as Pope Benedict's envoy touched down in Dublin.
The new papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles J Brown, was greeted by three of the Catholic Church's most-high profile figures when he arrived in Dublin Airport on a flight from Rome.
Dr Brown (52) is facing the huge task of repairing church-state relations which have reached a new low following Taoiseach Enda Kenny's criticism of the Vatican and the closure of the embassy established there in 1929.
He was welcomed by three figures who could be said to represent the past, present and future of the Catholic Church -- former Archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell, All- Ireland Primate Cardinal Sean Brady and current Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
Dr Brown replaces the previous papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, who was recalled by the Vatican last summer. That was widely seen as the Vatican expressing its displeasure after it had been criticised by Mr Kenny in the Dail for failing to co-operate fully with state inquires into clerical sexual abuse.
The Department of Foreign Affairs sent a senior representative -- deputy head of protocol Joseph Brennan -- to the airport to welcome Dr Brown.
The Government is keen to build a strong relationship with the new papal nuncio, but is refusing to reverse its decision to close the Vatican embassy .
Although Fine Gael TDs are set to debate a motion calling for a review of the decision at their parliamentary party meeting today, a spokeswoman for Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said there were no plans to re-open the embassy.
Dr Brown's face "lit up" on arrival at the sight of religious sisters from Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity Order -- which he had worked with in Rome, Belarus, Russia, Uzbekistan and Japan.
He is moving into the papal nuncio's official residence on the Navan Road in Dublin.
But he will not officially begin his work until he presents his credentials to President Michael D Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain later this month.