Vatican pulls diplomatic surprise

[caption id="attachment_68256" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Dr. Martin."]


The Vatican has announced its new envoy to Ireland, and the new nuncio is already raising eyebrows.

Irish-American Monsignor Charles Brown is to be the new papal nuncio, the Holy See announced this week.

The 52-year-old New Yorker has been working since 1994 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the main Vatican department that enforces church teachings and is now charged with investigating thousands of abuse cases.

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Pope Benedict also elevated Brown to the formal title of archbishop of Aquileia, named after an important early Christian centre in northeast Italy.

The previous ambassador, Giuseppe Leanza, was recalled from his post in July following the publication of a report into the Catholic Church's handling of abuse claims against 19 clerics in the diocese of Cloyne.

The report prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to launch an unprecedented attack on the church, saying its response to the abuse showed a culture of "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism" at the Vatican.

Leanza has since been appointed as the papal envoy to the Czech Republic.

Brown faces an immediate task in terms of local organization of the church as seven of Ireland's 26 dioceses are currently without a bishop following a series of resignations in the wake of the child abuse scandals.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has criticized state broadcaster RTÉ over the time it took them to admit that it had wrongly accused a County Galway priest, Fr. Kevin Reynolds, of sexually abusing a teenager and fathering a child while working in Africa 30 years ago.

In an interview broadcast on RTÉ radio, Dr. Martin - who has been fiercely critical of his own church's response to the pedophile scandals and said he does not believe there is an anti-Catholic bias in the Irish media - said that there was nevertheless a need to ensure a "basic balance between the right to investigate and press freedom, and the protection of the rights of individuals."

Said Martin: "Press freedom is a vital element of our society. Investigative journalism has done much good for our society, but we need to have forms of regulation which are independent, and we need a broad discussion in Ireland about how we manage these."

A number of investigations into the libeling of Fr. Reynolds on the Prime Time Investigates program, broadcast last May, are ongoing.