Monsignor Charles Brown, an Irish American from New York has been appointed the new Papal Nuncio to Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI.
It is a highly unusual appointment as Brown does not come from the Vatican diplomatic corps. His ability to speak English and his closeness to the current pope are seen as the major reasons that he was appointed.
Monsignor Charles Brown, in his mid fifties is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who has been working for the Holy See since 1994 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that also dealt with the child abuse scandals.
In this capacity he worked closely with future pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. His appointment will be seen as a major effort by the Vatican to patch up relationships with the Irish government which have fallen on hard times after the furore over the Cloyne diocese sexual abuse story when the Vatican was accused by the Irish government of interfering in the inquiry.
Msgr. Brown graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1981, where he majored in History. He holds graduate degrees from Oxford University, the University of Toronto, and the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome. He is a visiting scholar at Notre Dame also.
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Vatican insiders praised the appointment to the Irish Times stating that Brown was a “savvy communicator” who is seen as “intelligent, lucid and clear”.
Ireland announced the closure of its Vatican Embassy recently and the previous Vatican envoy to Dublin had departed his job leading to speculation that he might not be replaced either.
Brown will have a tough task ahead seeking to repair relationship that has been badly soured over the child sex abuse issue in Ireland.
He has a close relationship with Pope Benedict and was once quoted as saying; The pope is “A humble, very private person who is very smart and remembers anything he reads. He likes to study, read and pray.” A man of great faithfulness who has given his life to the church.”