Saturday 17 August 2019

New bishop for diocese vulnerable to Brexit will be based in south

Fr Michael Router will help Archbishop Eamon Martin
Fr Michael Router will help Archbishop Eamon Martin

Sarah MacDonald

A new auxiliary bishop for the Catholic archdiocese of Armagh, which will be one of the most affected by Brexit with parishes on both sides of the Border, will be based in Dundalk.

Pope Francis announced yesterday he had appointed Fr Michael Router (54), the parish priest of Bailieboro, Co Cavan, as Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh.

He will help the head of the Irish Church, Archbishop Eamon Martin, in Armagh, which has 61 parishes and a Catholic population of 267,803 across counties Armagh, Louth, and parts of countries Tyrone, Derry and Meath.

Archbishop Martin said Fr Router's appointment was particularly welcome as he had recently taken on additional responsibility as administrator of the Diocese of Dromore.

Dromore has had no bishop since Bishop John McAreavey resigned last year after victims of child abuser Fr Malachy Finegan called for him to stand down over his decision to officiate at the priest's funeral Mass in 2002.

Ancient

The new auxiliary bishop has been given the Titular See of Lugmad, which is an ancient episcopal see in Co Louth.

The Irish Church as an all-Ireland institution will be seriously affected in the event of a hard Brexit, with bishops in dioceses that straddle the Border facing the prospect of Border checks to visit their parishes.

Some dioceses like Armagh already deal with two currencies as well as coping with the administration of operating in two different jurisdictions.

In a statement, Bishop-elect Router said the Church in Ireland had become "too comfortable in its position of temporal as well as spiritual authority".

However the present, he said, was a period of "unprecedented change for the Church in this country and the pace of change will only continue to increase in the years ahead".

Irish Independent

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