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Vatican restructures 6 Irish dioceses under just 3 bishops

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J-P Mauro - published on 04/15/24

The Church hopes that this restructuring will help to address problems that have arisen due to the lack of vocations in the country.

The Vatican is restructuring the episcopal makeup of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

According to the Irish Independent, the changes will restructure Ireland’s Western Province so that its six dioceses will be overseen by just three bishops. The report notes that the alterations reflect the change in the distribution of the Catholic population.

The impetus for the change was the retirement of Bishop John Fleming of the Diocese of Killala. With his leaving, the number of bishops fell to five, but rather than replacing Bishop Fleming, the Church shuffled the deck

The first major change made by Pope Francis was to move Bishop Paul Dempsey, of the Diocese of Achonry, to a new position as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin. Bishop Dempsey, who is the youngest Catholic prelate in Ireland, is expected to be a boon to Dublin’s outreach towards younger people. The Diocese of Achonry will be moved under the purview of Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, who will now minister to both dioceses. 

Outgoing Bishop Fleming will be replaced in the Diocese of Killala by Archbishop Francis Duffy, who will also remain the head of the Archdiocese of Tuam. On April 10, Archbishop Duffy celebrated Mass at Tuam’s Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where he announced his new position alongside the Papal Nuncio. He expressed his excitement over the “union between the two dioceses of Killala and Tuam.”

“Fortunately, there is already a well-established practice of collaboration and cooperation between the western dioceses. This is a sure sign of hope for the success of the important work that [is] now under way,” Archbishop Duffy commented.

Further doubling up of dioceses can be seen in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and the Diocese of Clonfert. These two dioceses now fall under the episcopal authority of Bishop Michael Duignan.

While some of its dioceses are now united under the same bishop, the Catholic Church in Ireland does not intend on changing or combining any of its dioceses. The boundaries of the 26 Catholic dioceses of Ireland have remained consistent for the better part of 900 years. Still, the Church hopes that this restructuring will help to address problems that have arisen due to the lack of vocations in the country

Read more at The Irish Independent.

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