Five big names to investigate Ireland

The Vatican announced today that the apostolic visitation of certain dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations in Ireland will commence this autumn. Pope Benedict XVI had announced this visitation earlier in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland. And he is not sending the least to do the actual investigation into how the highest ranks of the Irish Church behaved when faced with sexual abuse under their jurisdiction.

The four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland – Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam – are first on the list. Each of the archdioceses has a principal visitor named. To Armagh will go Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, emeritus archbishop of Westminster. To Dublin Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley of Boston. To Cashel and Emly Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto, and to Tuam Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast of Ottawa. Furthermore, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is named the apostolic visitor to the seminaries and houses of formation, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.

A group of five heavy-hitters, mostly from the new world, some experienced (Cardinals Murphy-O’Connor and O’Malley) some very much up and coming (Archbishop Dolan) and some experienced mediamen (Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Prendergast are both active bloggers, for example).

Of their goals, the press release says:

“Through this visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.

“The apostolic visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical ‘Motu Proprio’ ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela’ and the norms contained in ‘Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland’, commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.”

Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor
Sean Cardinal O'Malley
Archbishop Thomas Collins
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast
Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Rumours of a new bishop for Namur

Msgr. Rémy Vancottem, to be the new ordinary bishop of Namur

At Dutch Catholic news website Rorate I read an announcement that a new bishop has been announced for the Belgian Diocese of Namur. Of course, said website offers no sources or links to other websites, and merely states that the official announcement will be made at noon today. One can only guess where. I have been unable to find any confirmation of it on the official websites of the Church in Belgium. It’s quite annoying that a website like Rorate, which presents itself as a news source, limits itself to just stating such bare facts (if they are facts). I would have liked a bit more information, if only to find out where I can read or see the noon announcement.

Anyway, if true, it is of course welcome news for Namur, which has been vacant since Bishop André-Mutien Léonard became Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard if Malines-Brussels in January of this year. Namur has been headed by a diocesan administrator, Msgr. Jean-Marie Huet, since then. The diocese also has an Auxiliary Bishop, Msgr. Pierre Warin. Either of them could be appointed as the new diocesan bishop, or the choice could be for any other cleric from within or without the diocese. It will be interesting to see who it is and how he will compare to Msgr. Léonard.

Anyway, more at noon today.

EDIT: Well, it’s past noon, and the name is known. The new bishop of Namur will be Msgr. Remy Vancottem, until now Auxiliary Bishop for Brabant Wallon in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels. For the archdiocese this appointment means that there are now two vacant auxiliary sees instead available: a mere relocation of the problem. Belgium is still expecting two more new bishops: an ordinary for Bruges and now two new auxiliaries for Malines-Brussels.

I’ll devote a proper blog post to Bishop Vancottem tonight.