New Archbishop of Cashel and Emly appointed

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Bishop Kieran O’Reilly brings ‘a perspective from his wide experience of mission in Africa’

Bishop Kieran O’Reilly  succeeds Archbishop Dermot Clifford as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. Photograph: Dara Mac DonaillBishop Kieran O’Reilly succeeds Archbishop Dermot Clifford as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

The new Archbishop of Cashel and Emly is Bishop Kieran O’Reilly (62), who for the past four years has been Bishop of Killaloe. Secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference, he succeeds Archbishop Dermot Clifford, who has retired.

From Cork, where he was born on August 8th 1952, he was educated at Scoil Chríost Rí and Coláiste Chríost Rí before entering the Society of African Missions in 1970. Ordained in June 1978 he served in Liberia for two years before studying in Rome for a licentiate in sacred scripture. From 1984 to 1989 he lectured in Scripture at the seminary of Sts Peter and Paul, in Ibadan, Nigeria.

From 1989 until his appointment as Bishop of Killaloe in 2010 he served on the Irish and International Councils of the Society of African Missions.

Last September in a message read at Masses in Killaloe, which covers most of Co Clare, he announced he was delaying introduction of a permanent diaconate there following strong protests, mainly from women. In a pastoral letter the previous month he had invited men to apply for posts as permanent deacons in the diocese.

It sparked protests from women active in Killaloe parishes. Posters appeared in churches calling for opposition to the male-only diaconate and a protest meeting took place at the Clare Inn in Dromoland.

Subsequently, in a note read at Masses in Killaloe he said, he had “listened very carefully to the observations and concerns raised” and had decided to “not now proceed with the introduction of the permanent diaconate at this time in the diocese”.

He felt “the level of engagement shown by the recent dialogue has brought to the surface a sign of the energy and commitment of many people in our church. I encourage this dialogue to continue.”

In October 2000, the Irish bishops sought Vatican approval for the introduction of a permanent diaconate in Ireland. This was granted in July 2005.

Congratulating Bishop O’Reilly on his translation to Cashel and Emly the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin said he “brings a perspective to the table of the Irish Episcopal Conference which is drawn from his wide experience of mission in Liberia and Nigeria. Conscious of Pope Francis’ dream, mentioned in his Apostolic Exhortation `The Joy of the Gospel’, of a ‘missionary option’ to inspire everything we do in the Church, I have no doubt that Archbishop Kieran will continue to make an invaluable contribution to the renewal and mission of the Church in Ireland.”

He also paid tribute to Archbishop Clifford. On “the 50th anniversary year of his priestly ordination, I wish to pay a special tribute to the ministry of Archbishop Dermot Clifford, and to offer him every blessing for a well-earned retirement,” he said.

He recalled how in more recent times Archbishop Clifford has acted as Apostolic Administrator in the Diocese of Cloyne following the resignation there of Bishop John Magee due to mishandling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in that diocese. “For this, the Church in Ireland, and indeed the Universal Church, owe him a great debt of gratitude for his tireless and selfless service during the most challenging of times,” Archbishop Eamon Martin said.

For his own part Archbishop Clifford said “ I always prayed that I would be here and well enough to ordain my successor when I reached retirement age. As it turns out, I now find that I have already ordained him four years ago in Ennis . . . That he is a scholar I learned from others, that he is a gentleman I have found out for myself.”

Bishop O’Reilly will be installed as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly early in 2015 when he will become one of the four Catholic Archbishops in Ireland. The other three are the Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary.

Patsy McGarry; Irish Times; 22 November 2014