Supposedly wise men can make foolish judgements, too. Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Government were very misled by deciding to close the Vatican embassy. Though only a small country, we have the greatest number of practicing Catholics in Europe. This heritage and culture, through our missionaries and travellers, has spread our name and fame to every corner of the globe.
Ireland was traditionally very close to Rome. In fact that connection went right back to 432 AD when Pope Celestine ordained St. Patrick as bishop and allowed him back to Ireland to help teach the word of God to a pagan people. On formation of the Free State the Vatican was one of its first foreign embassies.
Now, that Mr. Gilmore has authorised it’s closure, Ireland has cut itself off from one of the world’s great “listening posts”, given that the Vatican has an unparalleled and extensive worldwide network of contacts, intelligence and information. Cost-wise, the Holy See embassy was one of it’s less expensive because it’s invisible gains far exceeded the more obvious ones.
It is absolutely vital our embassy is restored or at least it’s re-establishment confirmed as quickly as possible. We need our full image back, with a real voice in a global Church that embraces 1.3 billion Catholics. Let us rejoin the other 80 resident embassies, including Russia and Cuba.
The Vatican responded promptly and forgivingly by sending us Archbishop Charles J. Brown (52), an Irish-American, as our new Apostolic Nuncio. He formally took up office last week on presenting his credentials to President Michael D. Higgins at Aras on Uachtarain. As representative of Pope Benedict he is tasked “to do everything in his power to solidify and strengthen relations between the Holy See and Ireland”.
Government Leaders and the Church Hierarchy, in continuing to drag their feet, risk detracting from the giant 50th International Eucharistic Congress, discouraging the widely looked forward to presence of Pope Benedict XVI and causing Ireland to be big losers both spiritually and financially. It was Charles DeGaule who said - “Deliberation is the work of many men. Action, of one alone”.