|Cardinal Sean Brady (center) with Monsignor Eamon Martin (left) and Papal Nuncio Charles Brown (right) on the steps of Armagh Cathedral on Jan 18 2013.|
The Vatican is moving to completely transform the face of Irish Catholicism led by the dynamic Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown.
The New Yorker and Notre Dame grad has quickly worked out a strategy for the Irish church leadership beset by sex abuse cover-up allegations.
That strategy was unveiled in full by the announcement late in the week that Monsignor Eamon Martin of Derry would leapfrog a generation of bishops and would be bishops and become the future leader of the church.
Martin is a toddler in ecclesiastical terms, a mere 51 years old, and Brown has undoubtedly taken the step to recommend him as the future Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland to end once and for all the hideous in fighting that has consumed the church leadership.
There is apparently a poisonous atmosphere among the top clergy, caused in the main by the implications of the cover-ups and the failure of one leader, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, to go along.
Diarmuid Martin is fearless, but a deeply divisive figure among his fellow bishops because of his outspoken comments. In terms of public approval he would be by far the most popularchurch figure in Ireland but popularity is not where the Vatican is at.
Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the church in Ireland, has become a massive liability after it became clear that he had participated in some manner in the cover-up of abusive priests.
So he had to go, hence the move now by Brown and the Vatican to move beyond this tainted generation of church leader and choose a bright new star, untainted by child abuse scandals.
It is operation ‘clean hands’ and is already being referred to as such. There are many other senior appointments to come and we can expect more of the same.
The gamble for the Vatican is that young Eamon Martin may be out of his depth which would mean they have picked a lightweight who may be in situ at least two decades.
Brown however, appears to be a shrewd and clever playmaker who has seen the need to skip a generation and start afresh and who thinks the gamble on such an inexperienced prelate is worth the risk.
That remains to be seen but there will be a long sigh of relief in the Vatican that the Irish mess is on its way to being sorted out.
Former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly spoke for the majority when he said “He does not carry any baggage from the past with him,' Daly told the BBC.
'It's a challenging time for the church in Ireland. He has been asked to lead that church.'