Holy See – Irish “relations”

The Irish government has confirmed a decision to close its embassy to the Holy See.

Thus, the Irish Times.

They are sticking to their excuse of budget cuts.  Thus, AP.

I would remind the Irish that there are more Catholics in Los Angeles than there are in Ireland.

Perhaps the Holy See should reconsider my proposal to deal with all Irish business from a desk in the Nunciature at the Court of St. James in London.

Please pray for my friend Archbp. Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncius to Ireland.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jlduskey says:

    If the Irish government closes its embassy to the Holy See, doesn’t that make Archbishop Charles Brown the Apostolic Delegate to Ireland?

  2. disco says:

    I think he’d only be the apostolic delegate if they severed diplomatic relations. I don’t know that that is happening here.

  3. Brad says:

    This isn’t ridiculous, it’s ridonkulus. The only thing weirder would I guess be Italy or the Philippines closing theirs?

  4. digdigby says:

    Put the embassy of the Vatican See at the court of St. James and all correspondence delivered by the black-and tans.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    It is ridiculous, but probably not on the scale of closing the one in the Philippines. There are still many Catholics in the Philippines, maybe more than in Ireland at present. Ireland *used* to be Catholic.

    Many Catholics have grossly underestimated the explosive potential of the sex abuse crisis. Many non-Catholics don’t think about Catholicism on a daily basis in their normal lives–hard for many Catholics to believe, but true. When they see this abuse crisis on the news every day, and are forced to hear about it, it makes an enormous impression, and a very bad impression. You see, non-Catholics have a picture in their minds of a Catholic priest who looks like Bing Crosby in Going My Way. Superimposing a mental picture of a child abuser on top of that day after day, well, it’s disastrous. Some people that our clergy are nearly monsters now. And we too, by extension.

    This is part of what’s behind the recent HHS mandate. They simply think that they can get away with it now in the public forum.

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    BTW, we Catholics have dropped the ball in so many places, it’s pathetic. Catholics had better start acting like Catholics, or the Church is going to become a lot smaller and a lot more persecuted. Then we’ll get a Catholic identity all right.

    This includes the bishops. They let the sex abuse crisis go uncontrolled here and we saw the results. It also happened in Ireland and this embassy issue in Ireland is just part of those results.

    They’ve also let organizations using the name Catholic or the reputation Catholic, aka Loyola University for an example, use insurance coverage that includes abortion, and we can now see the results of that. There’s an obvious pattern here. So what’s next?

    Warm & fuzzy party time is over, and it’s past time to get down to business. I certainly hope the USCCB learns something and I hope they learn it fast. If they don’t the costs are astronomical. Luckily there are signs that they’re in shock, and starting to get to where they need to be. It’s way past due, but better late than never.

  7. shane says:

    The question that needs to be asked is: ‘Are diplomatic relations between the Irish State and the Vatican actually in the interests of the Church in Ireland?’

    The answer to that is ‘no’, IMO: http://lxoa.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/irelands-embassy-to-the-vatican-should-not-be-re-opened/

    Keep the embassy closed!

  8. Ulrich says:

    @jlduskey Ireland does still maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See, but they don’t have a resident ambassador in Rome anymore. Their ambassador will likely reside in another European Capital, as the Holy See does not permit ambassadors to be at the same time ambassadors to Italy.

  9. DisturbedMary says:

    Keep an eye on the Irish statistics of fail: depression, sexually transmitted disease, broken families, and especially suicide. When you invite nihilism with enthusiasm, the outcome will not be good.

  10. Maltese says:

    Ireland, poor Ireland. I had the great good fortune to study at Trinity College, Dublin, sit above the Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher, evade sheep as a drove above the sea in County Mayo, on my way to Achill Island, where I also climbed Croagh Patrick, visited nearby Galway, where a young husband and wife graciously put me up in their flat after a too-thorough bar-hopping experience with them, even though I had just met them that night. If there is a Country almost as close to my heart as my own, it is Ireland.

    But Ireland, in a sense, sold her soul to mammon after ratifying the Maastricht treaty. The Irish Tiger began her economic windfall, and her spiritual and sovereign decline. Brussels has been trying ever since to force Ireland to legalize abortion. But abortion is already readily available in Ireland, all the woman has to say is that she “fears suicide” if she takes it to term, and, of course, Irish women can easily jump the puddle and procure an abortion in the U.K.

    Only some 2% of youth go regularly to Mass in Dublin. The secularizing force in Ireland is tragic to behold. (Please see here)

  11. frobuaidhe says:

    I really wish you would stop repeating that offensive quip about moving the Nunicature’s business in Ireland to London. It IS offensive. I am offended each time you post it. I know other Irish readers are to because they have told me so personally. Each time you fire your shot aiming at the anti-Catholic element in our sorry excuse for a government, you cause more collateral offence to faithful Irish Catholics than good. I doubt very much if the Irish Labour Party and their fellow travellers are much bothered by the suggestion however. The cultural West Brit mentality still survives among them.

    Whatever, it is your blog and if you want to go out of your way to offend Irish Catholics, keep on going; get off your chest whatever anti-Irish sentiment you harbour and feel is presently justified out of a sense of loyalty to the same Church as we belong to.

  12. ContraMundum says:

    Put the embassy of the Vatican See at the court of St. James and all correspondence delivered by the black-and tans.

    In my first casual scan I read, “… and all correspondence delivered by black trans-am.” That would be a move in the right direction!

  13. digdigby says:

    The joke is beyond you, obviously. Father Z and the rest of us are keenly aware that Ireland is not to be considered ‘part of the British isles’ even on the ecclesiastical / diplomatic level. Fiercely Irish-American Bishop Fulton Sheen would have ‘got’ it.

  14. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I don’t think the Church should react to the closure of the Irish embassy to the Holy See. Ireland represents too much and symbolizes too much for the Church to enact any provocative measure and cause any further rifts.

  15. shane says:

    Ulrich, the ambassador is operating from Dublin.

    Maltese, the faith in Ireland has been collapsing since the Council. (And I agree with those who say that the new Mass and the new catechesis have done more damage to the Catholic faith in Ireland than the penal laws ever did.) As early as 1984 (long before the abuse revelations) Peadar Kirby could write a book (albeit a poor one) asking, ‘Is Irish Catholicism Dying?’ Reviewing it in ‘The Furrow’ [January, 1985] Fr Kevin Hegarty (now in the ACP) observed that “the self-confidence of post-Famine Irish Catholicism..has vanished..The last twenty years have witnessed a gradual though seemingly inexorable drift away from Church services…Older Irish Catholics long for the vanished certainties and glories of the past while their younger counterparts are disappointed that the new ‘glad confident morning’ promised in the euphoria that surrounded Vatican II has not come to pass.”

    Even if the Celtic Tiger or the abuse scandals had never happened, the Irish Church would still be on its knees right now.

    frobuaidhe, the part about moving the embassy to London was a joke.

  16. shane says:

    The really sad thing about this is that the embassy will inevitably be re-opened in the not too distant future. I say sad because, as I pointed out in the link above, diplomatic relations between the two states are certainly not in any way in the interests of the Irish Church. I am absolutely baffled as to why some conservative and traditionalist Catholics in Ireland think an embassy in Rome is desirable. Indeed the closure of the embassy is actually a golden opportunity for Catholicism in Ireland, albeit one that will inevitably be wasted.

  17. skull kid says:

    frobuaidhe I think you need to lighten up. I’m Irish and I am not in the least offended by Fr Z’s witty remark. I think he is spot on. Ireland is, at present, a pretty pathetic little country run by an amateur but very anti-Catholic government. Ireland deserves everything she gets, and I can say that because I am Irish. Well, I’m Northern Irish, and I suppose you might call me British. Whatever, I’m not bothered about petty politics or nationalism.

  18. shane says:

    skull kid, I despise our current Blueshirt – Stickie government for many reasons however I don’t agree that they’re particularly ‘anti-Catholic’. For instance Ireland is still the only western European country to ban abortion in almost all circumstances; Fine Gael gave an electoral promise not to legislate for abortion. Hardly the stuff of anti-clerical monsters. BTW there’s nothing inherently ‘Catholic’ about having an embassy to the Holy See. It isn’t part of Church doctrine; it’s ridiculous to portray its closure as an attack on the Catholic faith. Indeed many Catholics strongly supported the decision to close the embassy, whereas many anti-clericals were forcefully opposed, so it’s not a black and white Catholic/Secularist issue, as you suggest.

  19. shane says:

    Remember….. Vatican City State ? Catholic Church

  20. shane says:

    whoops, I put a does not equal sign there, but it did not show. Either way, equating either the CC or the Pope with the Vatican City State only plays into the hands of the Church’s enemies.

  21. Prof. Basto says:


    No, because the Holy See and Ireland still maintain full diplomatic relations, so Archbishop Brown is Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.

    He would only be Apostolic Delegate if there were no diplomatic relations, in which case he would be the Papal Envoy to the Church in Ireland only, and not the Papal Representative to the Irish State also.

    The crux of this technical issue is that maintaining full diplomatic relations is different from having a physical Embassy in the territory of the “receiving State”. So, the Holy See continues to send an Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Ireland, technically, continues to send an Ambassador to the Holy See.

    The problem is that Ireland’s Ambassador to the Holy See will from now on be the same person who is Ireland’s Ambassador to the Italian Republic, and so the same Embassy (the same phyiscal building, the same staff), will be used to handle Ireland’s relations with both the Holy See and Italy. In practice, this means that only a “desk” or a section of Ireland’s Embassy in Italy will actually be concerned with Holy See affairs.

    Meanwhile, the Holy See is continuing to maintain an “exclusive” Nunciature to Ireland, instead of adopting Fr. Z’s suggestion (of making the Apostolic Nuncio to the United Kingdom the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, with his seat in London).

    Normally, and especially when there are solid or otherwise important relations between them, countries are expected to have “exclusive” Embassies in the territories of each other; the situation of the accreditation of the same Head of Mission to more than one country is usually reserved for countries that have little contact.

    For instance, a country like, say, Uruguay, a small South American country, has an Embassy in Sudan; but then South Sudan became independent; and since Sudan and South Sudan aren’t really countries with which Uruguay has much trade or contact, Uruguay may ask South Sudan if South Sudan will agree to Uruguay naming the person who already is Ambassador to Sudan (or to another neighbouring country, if that is tought more appropriate), to serve, concurrently, and from his seat abroad, as Ambassador to South Sudan too.

    Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the appointment by the “sending State” of the same person to serve as Head of Mission accredited to more than one “receiving State” at once depends on the consent of all the receiving States concerned (article 5, paragraph 1).

    So, both the Holy See and Italy had to consent to this move by Ireland. Of course, since Ireland had already announced that it would no longer keep an exclusive Mission to the Vatican, the Holy See’s refusal of consent to sharing the same Irish Ambassador with Italy could have meant the total breakdown of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Holy See.

    But it begs the question of wether or not the Holy See should apply the “principle of reciprocity” and save money by handling Irish affairs from a desk in London.

  22. Christopher1978 says:

    Yes, unfortunately Ireland, along with the rest of the world, Catholic and secular, had a big downturn in the 1960’s. The Council was not a positive mark on the Church, but we must give the drug and sex revolution it’s due for the destruction of the morals of the world. The drug and sex revolution was very detrimental to Ireland, and the world as a whole. Also, such communication mediums as television radio became a much larger player in the molding of people in that era. Propaganda and and immorality began to seep it’s way to the masses in a whole new way. We cannot blame the Council entirely, as some might. There were a lot of huge bad things that spread evil around the globe that took a strong foot-hold in the ’60s….

  23. Supertradmum says:

    I have been living in Ireland for over two months exactly and I have never seen such anti-Catholicism among the people as I have here. It is worse than England. The Irish are like spoiled adolescents in rebellion against Daddy, who has given them everything. How this happened, I am not sure. but the Catholic population of Church-goers is older than that of the States. As in Great Britain and Malta, the John Paul II Generation was never “born here”–those in their 40s and younger, except for a few bright sparks, are totally secularized and worse, anti-Catholic. At the Latin Mass on Sunday, I had a delightful talk over coffee with three university students at Dublin. None are Irish. They told me that there are conservative, Latin Mass movements among the young in France, Italy, and even Singapore, but not here in Ireland. There has not been the conservative movement among the younger generation here at all. Parents have not home schooled and there is a sickening lack of responsibility for the Faith among adults. Most just have done what Father said to do and if Father is liberal, there one goes. The people I have met are also anti-intellectual about the Faith, which is very odd. In England, there are the old, intellectual Catholic groupings which have kept the Faith and are more and more conservative. Also, there are many more conservative and Latin Mass priests in Great Britain. There are way more Tridentine Masses in England and Wales then there are here in Ireland.

    The Irish Church will fade away completely in another two generations.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    frobuaidhe, your comment has shown me more proof of what I have seen here and that is the lack of the sense of the Universal Church. For too long, the Irish have lived on a dead heritage of the Faith. If there are countries where the Faith is living and strong, and Father Z thinks they could help Ireland, the passionate hatred which still simmers here for the British will not help the Irish to grow out of a parochialism which has chocked the Faith here. While Catholics in other countries in Europe are rousing themselves out of a sleep, the Irish are still talking about being Catholic without really being Catholic. Example, after the Latin Mass, I had Catholics defending the Democratic Party in America and Obamacare. What? Living in the past will not help the Faith grow here. That the Latin Mass is practically invisible here is another proof of this parochialism.

  25. jaykay says:

    “the passionate hatred which still simmers here for the British…”

    Please… don’t make silly and inaccurate over-generalisations like that.

    Yes, I do agree that there is the attitude towards the Church – among SOME people – of “spoiled adolescents in rebellion against Daddy” but I think that this is to a great extent coming from the generation now in their 50s and 60s, some of whom have an axe to grind, as witness the current Religion correspondents of both the Irish Times and the Irish Independent, but others of whom have just unconsciously imbibed all the “bad old days” guff (which has been coming from certain quarters for decades now) and now trot it out unthinkingly.

    I know many of this type of person, many are in my own family! They know I’m a practicing Catholic and some will occasionally come out with the standard “what about…” lines. By and large, I have found that they can’t sustain the argument. Unfortunately some won’t listen to any sort of reasoned argument. I have lost friends over this. But you get the same thing with politics – and you get it everywhere.

    However, I would have to say over many years experience in interacting with the younger generation i.e. those in their 20s and even 30s – it just isn’t really an issue with them, although they’ll somewhat apathetically trot out the “bad old repressive days” shtick. Depressingly, if you try to develop it, they’ll just yawn and move on. Few will engage in an interested argument or exchange of views. This is a result of the colossally bad teaching of religion in schools, which are still largely under the so-called “Catholic ethos” – which in reality means that teaching is largely left to secular teachers, themselves most likely badly educated in the Faith.

    I agree with you on the relative parochialism of the Irish Church – but I can tell you that that extends to a lot more than Catholicism! You just have to be here longer to see how. And I would hardly say that, taking relative sizes into account, the TLM is any more visible in the US than in Ireland. Is the US therefore parochial, by that definition?

    In fact, the reasons for the relative lack of the TLM are largely to do with the dominance of the liberal camp in seminaries and schools and universities for many decades, with their demonisation of anything “pre-V2”. You are of course familiar with this, but in Ireland it’s been particularly virulent. Again, there’s also the unpalatable fact that many of the younger priests are not – how to put this? – of the same calibre as would have been common 40 years ago. This comes across all too depressingly plainly in the sermons one hears. You can still depend on the Dominicans, however!

  26. shane says:

    As a young Irish Catholic university student myself I have to agree with jaykay. The image Supertradmum paints is wildly exaggerated. I have lived in both America and France; the idea that the Catholic faith is stronger in those two countries than it is here, among any age demographic, is I think quite false. I also agree that the strongest concentration of anti-clerical sentiment in Irish society is among the middle-aged. (My age group tends to see religion as something curious, not something to be rebelled against.)

  27. Amazing how Irish problems raise such debate. When the Dutch Clerical abuse scandal broke last year the silence on the web was deafening!

    Fr. Z – I admire your work and common sense and above all your orthodoxy but please in this matter could I suggest that once might be funny but more than that tires. There may be Irish readers of your blog with family members who were beaten or killed by British forces. I certainly know some who have. My own grandfather was almost shot by the ‘Black and Tans’. Would you think it humorous to suggest that the Papal Nuntio to Israel (if there is one) operate from Berlin or the one to the US work from Moscow?

    I agree with Shane that there is a great opportunity here for the Irish Church to weaken any undue influence previous Irish Governments have exercised over the Irish Church especially in the selection of Bishops. It is rumoured that our own Taoiseach had his infamous speech written for him by Fr. Tony Flannery (now of the ACP). The ACP is now on a recruiting drive among Irish clergy and they have their liberal supporters and fellow travellers in Government. Weakening that influence can only help the orthodox in the Church.

    Formation for clergy and religious as well as for the people has been poor but then the options are limited. Many of the colleges are still in the hands of the theologically dubious. Still I don’t think all is lost. Mount Athos was earmarked for closure in the 70’s and now it’s thriving and as one who works daily with teenagers I can say that there are some very fine young Irish (and ‘new Irish’) Catholics – a new Spring for the Irish Church may yet come.

    Finally some have castigated Ireland and the Irish Church for her parochialism. Yes there are negative sides to the Irish psyche and Irish culture. A strong sense of place and family can leave one open to parochialism. I believe that this is also a strength particularly in rural Ireland: a strong sense of community. The Faith has very deep roots here and it would take more than two months holidays here to find that out. If we Irish are willing to re-embrace the demands of our Faith, to live it radically, well, as we say ‘God is good’ and he may give us our Spring.

  28. catholicmidwest says:

    Only Ireland could have an archbishop named Charlie Brown and get away with it.

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