An announcement that Ireland's government will re-open its embassy to the Holy See came as welcome news to Church officials, who believe it is a “constructive”move for the Church.
“It is an excellent decision for the people of Ireland and will be beneficial to Ireland in making its distinctive and important contribution to international relations,” papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown said in a Jan. 21 statement published in the Irish Times.
“We are all grateful to those who worked so hard to make this day possible.”
The Irish Embassy to the Holy See was closed in November of 2011, and was a decision that deputy Prime Minister of Ireland Eamon Gilmore claimed to be made for solely economic reasons.
Gilmore had stated that due to an uncertain economy the, the Irish government had “to cut our cloth.” The decision was debated by many of the country's Catholics, however, who believe the move was connected to a fall-out between Dublin and Rome after the publication of an official report on the handling of clerical abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne, County Cork.
Senior diplomats of Ireland suggest that the re-opening of the embassy is due to the context of a pontificate which emphasizes poverty, human rights issues, and developing world concerns, the Irish Times reports.
A Jan. 21 statement issued by the Archdiocese of Dublin on behalf of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin – who is currently participating in the World Economic Forum – said that the decision is “welcomed” and that its opening “on a smaller scale” is “a very constructive exercise.”
Archbishop Martin also acknowledged that the Irish government has “remained committed to the re-opening of the Embassy when the economic situation allowed,” and expressed special appreciation to Mr. David Cooney, who acted as a non-resident Ambassador to the Holy See in the intervening period.
Noting that Pope Francis, “from the outset of his pontificate, has dedicated himself to being a strong voice for fighting poverty,” the archbishop noted that the Vatican is “an important place of interchange on questions of global development.”
He also added that a resident Irish ambassador will “enhance relations between the Vatican and Ireland.”
According to the Irish Times, there is no set date as to when the embassy will officially open due to the fact that an ambassador must first be appointed, and the government is still searching for a location close to the Vatican.
However, the paper reported that a Foreign Affairs spokesman did express hope that a new ambassador will be chosen by the summer.
Foreign Affairs also claims the new Vatican embassy will be one that is “modest,” and a one-person operation, which is keeping in line with the new “sobriety and parsimony blowing through the Vatican under Pope Francis,” the Irish Times wrote.