THE administrator of the Diocese of Limerick says he finds it “very strange” that a replacment for Bishop Donal Murray has still not been appointed by the Vatican.
Bishop Murray resigned almost two years ago in the wake of the controversy following the publication of the Murphy Report into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.
However, Fr Tony Mullins, who was appointed Diocesan Administrator following Bishop Murray’s resignation, says he would be surprised if a new bishop is not appointed in the near future.
Fr Mullins says the fact that there are 184,000 Catholics living in the Diocese of Limerick would be a major factor in any decision.
He also believes the presence of a major urban centre and a Catholic third-level college in the diocese would be significant factors.
“I would be surprised if we didn’t have a bishop in Limerick; I would imagine that we would have a bishop and that would be my hope but I really don’t know what is going to happen, I really don’t and that, I suppose, in itself is very strange,” he said.
Recent reports in the national media have suggested that the number of dioceses in Ireland might be reduced next year from the current 14 by the Vatican.
Fr Mullins says he expects an announcement to be made in relation to that in January.
“The church in Ireland has been under review since the visitation took place in spring of last year and they have said they will respond to that in January so I think all will be revealed in January,” Fr Mullins told the Limerick Leader.
It is understood that one possibility being examined as part of the review of the church in Ireland is that the Diocese of Limerick may be expanded to include parts of neighbouring dioceses such as the Diocese of Killaloe and the Diocese of Cashel and Emly.
“I don’t know what’s in it and I don’t believe that anybody in the hierarchy knows what’s in it but they (the Vatican) will be making proposals.
Historically there is a huge attachment to the structures that we have but perhaps as we move to the future we should look at those structures,” said Fr Mullins.