06 January 2012

A papal mission

In a move that should underscore the seriousness with which Pope Benedict XVI has worked to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse, particularly in Ireland, the Holy Father will, in a short time, ordain Archbishop-Elect Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.  At the same time, he will also ordain Archbishop-Elect Marek Solczynski, Apostolic Nuncio to Georgia and Armenia, whose episcopal ordination will, sadly, likely be overshadowed.

As I understand it, after he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop-Elect Brown requested episcopal ordaination at the hands of the Holy Father, with whom he had closely worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Since an Apostolic Nuncio is the Pope's personal representative of the Holy Father to foreign governments, it is especially poignant that the Pope himself will ordain his Nuncio to Ireland, which is suffering so terribly from the revelations of clerical sexual abuse.  Pope Benedict's decision to personally ordain Archbishop-elect Brown should demonstrate clearly his concern for the faithful of Ireland and his desire to continue to set things right.

As I consider the significance of today's ordination, I am reminded of days gone by when bishops were more routinely sent directly by the Pope in response to specific crises and for specific missions.  I am especially reminded of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, whom Pope Saint Gregory the Great personally sent to England in 595 to introduce to the Anglo-Saxons the Christian faith.

Archbishop-elect Brown will likewise have a specific mission as he is personally sent by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland, a similar task as was given by the Lord to Saint Francis of Assisi: to rebuild a church that has fallen into ruin.

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