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Catholic Church

‘Sign of the times’: Two dioceses in the West to lose Bishops as part of Church restructuring

Archbishop Francis Duffy described the move as a ‘pooling of resources to provide as good a service as we can’.

IN WHAT’S BEEN described as one of the biggest changes to the structure of the Catholic Church in Ireland in close to 1,000 years, two dioceses in the West are set to lose their bishops.

The changes will impact the diocese of Killala in Co Mayo and the diocese of Achonry in Co Sligo, which will become vacant Episcopal Sees.

An Episcopal Sees refers to the area of a bishop’s jurisdiction, and this responsibility will now be passed on to other respective Apostolic Administrators.

An Apostolic Administrator has the same authority as a bishop and can serve in areas where the diocese has no bishop or the seat is vacant, as is now the case in Killala and Achonry.

‘Pooling of resources’

Pope Francis today accepted the resignation of Bishop of Killala John Fleming on the grounds of age.

Rather than appointing a new bishop, responsibility for this diocese is now passed onto the Archbishop of Tuam, Francis Duffy.

Meanwhile, Bishop Paul Dempsey has been transferred from the diocese of Achonry to become the Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin – auxiliary bishops assist the diocesan bishop in meeting needs of the diocese.

Likewise, rather than appointing a new bishop, responsibility for the diocese passes onto the Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, who is now also the Apostolic Administrator of diocese of Achonry.

Archbishop of Tuam, and now also Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Killala, Francis Duffy noted that the changes were not “sudden” and that it had been “talked about for quite some time”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Duffy said: “It’s really the Catholic Church in the West of Ireland responding to the sign of the times, and looking at what we have and asking are these adequate for the situation in which we find ourselves.”

Duffy remarked that the dioceses will “eventually” be reunited and that this will be “moved towards in stages”.

This would see the six Dioceses in the Province of Tuam eventually becoming three.

Duffy said the changes represent a “good news story” and that he is “very positive and hopeful” and described it as a “pooling of resources and trying to provide as good as service as we can”.

While Duffy said there “won’t be much noticeable change” for worshippers in the West of Ireland initially, he noted that mass schedules have already been changed due to priest shortages.

He added that the changes follow consultations carried out with people in Achonry, Elphin, Killala and Tuam.

Elsewhere, the Papal Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, who serves as a diplomatic representative of the Vatican, said that “with pooled resources and combined endeavours, we can look to the future with hope and confidence”.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Eamon Martin, who is the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, “wished every blessing” to Archbishop Francis Duffy and Bishop Kevin Doran as they take up their new responsibilities as Apostolic Administrators.

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