Papal nuncio faces tough visit to diocese that has no bishop
THE new papal nuncio will face a "growing sense of disillusionment" with the Catholic Church when he visits a diocese for the first time today, because no new bishop has been appointed there.
Archbishop Charles Brown makes his first formal visit to the Kildare and Leighlin diocese this morning, where a diocesan eucharistic congress is taking place in Carlow town.
His visit comes after a number of priests have privately criticised church leaders for not appointing a successor to Bishop Jim Moriarty, who resigned in the wake of damning revelations of the church's handling of child-abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese.
He served in Kildare and Leighlin from 2002 until his resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict in April 2010.
Before that, he had served as auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Desmond Connell in Dublin.
Bishop Moriarty was not criticised in Judge Yvonne Murphy's report but he accepted that his resignation was necessary because he had failed to challenge the prevailing culture of secrecy in the church in Dublin.
The prelate was hugely popular in the Kildare and Leighlin diocese and was seen as a progressive leader.
Priests have expressed concerns about the failure to appoint his successor.
"It's a total clerical club that decides these things and there's a growing sense of frustration and bewilderment among a lot of priests," said a diocesan source who did not wish to be named.
"The church uses words like reform and change but it's hard for ordinary people to identify with them when you see all the regalia and millions spent organising the (international) Eucharistic Congress," added the source.
Separate to the diocesan eucharistic congress, a group of priests held a 24-hour fast in Carlow Cathedral on Thursday to pray for the victims of clerical child abuse.
Young people from 16 to 25 years will be attending today's events at the congress. Archbishop Brown will concelebrate Mass in the cathedral at 6.15pm.