|Cardinal Timothy Dolan|
His “major conclusion” was “that the bishops of Ireland must reaffirm the identity and mission of the college as first and foremost, a house of priestly formation for seminarians from Ireland, with the presence of non-Irish seminarians and graduate priests from Ireland and elsewhere, never allowed to dwarf the primary mission and identity, as he fears it now does”.
His “strong concern” was that “in reality, the Irish seminarians are only a minority subset in the house (18 in an enrolment of 56, less than one-third!). The clear identity of the college as primarily an Irish seminary is thus compromised”. He felt that “the presence of Orthodox students in the house, as well as of the Eastern Rite Catholic men not preparing for the celibate life”, was an added complication.
He noted that “one prelate asked the wisdom of having the bishops of Ireland subsidise a house for predominately [sic] non-Irish seminarians and priests”. He also recommended that “the graduate priests ordinarily come from Ireland and that their number be fewer than that of the seminarians”.
He continued: “The Apostolic Visitor’s recommendation is that the college accept only seminarians from Ireland; if a seminarian is accepted from another country, it should be extraordinary; they should only enter at the start of the first-year and must demonstrate a facility in English. Eastern Rite and Orthodox students should not be accepted.”
It is understood that the four Irish Catholic archbishops found this element of the cardinal’s report “surprising”. This was particularly so as the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity had requested the Irish College, as it did other seminaries in Rome, to take in Orthodox students.
It was also the case that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, had publicly acknowledged the generous role played by the Irish College in the education and ongoing formation of seminarians and priests from some of the most vulnerable Eastern Rite Catholic communities.
One such was Fr Ragheed Ghanni, a Chaldean Catholic priest murdered in Iraq in 2007. He had studied at the Irish College from 1996 to 2003.
Some think new bishops in Ireland should be non-Irish
Rome, Italy, Jun 16, 2012 / 07:31 am (SOURCE: CNA/EWTN News).- A leading commentator on the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland is asking the Vatican to consider appointing non-Irish bishops to currently vacant dioceses on the Emerald Isle.
“We may need to appoint overseas-based priests as bishops in Ireland or bring suitable people in to run the national seminary,” he suggested.
At present, four of Ireland’s 26 dioceses are vacant. Quinn believes that any new bishop will find a local church where “morale is low” and that is still “very shell shocked” after years of attack from the country’s political and cultural elite in the wake of several clerical abuse scandals.
In making his case for foreign bishops, Quinn points out that in contemporary Ireland there are now “non-nationals running our banks, running Aer Lingus, running Dublin Zoo, managing the Irish football team.” All that, he believes, begs the question, ‘Why not a few non-Irish priests running parts of the Church if that is what it takes?’
He also thinks that importing non-Irish bishops “would probably take a bit of adjusting” but that it could work “if the right people were found and they were personable and were able to get out and about and meet people and set their minds at ease.”
The idea of foreign missionaries coming to Ireland is not a new one. Historic legend suggests that Saint Patrick, the island’s patron, hailed from Wales or Scotland. And it’s a Celtic connection that Quinn thinks should once again be fruitfully re-established.
“There is obviously a lot of affinity between Scotland and Ireland, so I think it would be quite easy for them to adjust and for us to adjust to them.”
A key player in any new episcopal appointments will be Ireland’s papal nuncio, American Archbishop Charles Brown, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2011.
Ireland is currently hosting the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, June 10-17. Quinn hopes that the sight of so many “public, happy, joyous young Catholics” in the streets of the Irish capital will leave a lasting and positive legacy.
“It is a side of the faith that has not been seen in Ireland for a very long time,” he said. It shows “a more positive side of Catholicism, and if that sticks in the memory of some people that would obviously be amazing.”