Pope Benedict XVI warmly welcomed Ireland’s new ambassador to the Holy See, David John Cooney, at a ceremony in the Vatican on May 4.
Ambassador Cooney presented his Letter of Credence
from the President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D.Higgins, to
the 85-year old pontiff, and the two men spoke together briefly.
He was one of a group of five ambassadors to
present their credentials on this day in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall;
the others were from Armenia, Ethiopia, Fiji and Malaysia.
He presented his credentials at a particularly
delicate moment in relations between Ireland and the Holy See because
the previous day, May 3, some of Ireland’s top politicians, including
Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, the Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, suggested or called for Cardinal
Brady’s resignation for failing to protect children from abuse by a
priest predator, by informing their parents in 1975. (See Vatican
Insider stories, May 3).
Pope Benedict, however, made no reference to this,
or indeed to any specific country, in his speech welcoming the new
ambassadors. Instead, he asked them to convey his greetings to their
“civil and religious authorities” and to “reassure” the Catholic
communities in their countries of his prayers for them. His words are
likely to be well received in Ireland where 84% of its 4.6 million
people identified themselves as Catholic in the 2011 census.
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