Bishop Dermot Farrell appointed Archbishop of Dublin as Diarmuid Martin begins retirement

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s successor in the archdiocese of Dublin, the la...

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s successor in the archdiocese of Dublin, the largest catholic diocese in the country.

he announcement was made this morning at Our Lady of Lourdes parish on Dublin’s Sean McDermott Street, which was visited briefly by Pope Francis in 2018 and is the resting place of Venerable Matt Talbot, patron of those grappling with addiction. The parish also lies in the shadow of the country’s last Magdalene laundry which shut in 1996.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s retirement becomes effective from today, however the date for Archbishop-elect Farrell’s taking over of the governance of Dublin will be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, until the installation of the new archbishop, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Martin as Apostolic Administrator of Dublin.

Bishop Farrell (66) is a native of Castletown-Geoghegan, Co Westmeath. The eldest of seven children, he has served in the Diocese of Ossory since 2018 when he replaced Bishop Seamus Freeman who retired in 2016 due to ill health.

A former president of the national seminary and college in Maynooth and vicar general of the diocese of Meath, Dr Farrell has a range of experience in the areas of administration, pastoral ministry and seminary formation. He was elected Finance Secretary of the Irish Bishops’ Conference in March 2019.

Dr Martin turned 75 in April and was required by church law to offer his resignation to Pope Francis.

In a radio interview with RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan on Sunday 1 November, Archbishop Martin indicated that the Pope would announce his successor soon.

Amongst the incoming archbishop’s most pressing challenges will be the financial fall out of the Covid pandemic, the need for renewal to rejuvenate and engage the laity, the lack of young people in the diocese’s pews and the declining numbers of priests.

A 2016 report by Towers Watson found that 57pc of Dublin’s priests were then over 60. It also found that levels of weekly mass attendance in Dublin stood at 20-22pc of the population but were as low as 2-3pc in some inner city parishes.

Ordained in 1980, Bishop Farrell has a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and served for a time as director of formation in the Irish College in Rome before he returned to Maynooth to lecture in moral theology. He served as a curate in Tullamore parish while lecturing in Maynooth, where he was appointed Vice President of St Patrick’s College in 1993, and then President in 1996. He retired from this position in 2007.

Bishop Farrell has extensive administrative experience and has served on various boards and committees, among them, the Board of Allianz plc; the Governing Body of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; the Theological Department Irish Inter-Church Committee, and as National Director of the Permanent Diaconate. He is currently Chairman of Veritas Communications.

When he was chosen as Bishop of Ossory, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath highlighted how as parish priest of Dunboyne and Kilbride in 2007, Dr Farrell initiated new pastoral programmes and renewed the church and schools in one of the largest and most rapidly developing parishes in the diocese of Meath.

Half of his time since ordination has been spent in parish ministry in which he has said in the past he has “always been very happy and fulfilled”.

“This is why I became a priest in the first instance: to work with people, in their service, in the service of the Lord, and of his gospel, of Christ’s good news about God, about us, and about our world.”

Although it may have been expected that Dr Martin’s successor would be a priest from Dublin, the diocese of Ossory is within Dublin’s metropolitan province, and this is not the first time a bishop from outside Dublin has been appointed to the role.

In 1984, Bishop Kevin McNamara of Kerry became archbishop of Dublin and but only served for three years due to ill health. He was succeeded by Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s tenure at the helm in Dublin (2004-2020) was dominated by the issue of clerical sexual abuse and saw the publication in 2009 of the Murphy Report into abuse perpetrated by priests of the diocese and the mishandling of those cases by church leaders.

The former high-flying Vatican diplomat encountered opposition within the Irish Church and Rome for his ‘victims and children first’ approach and his emphasis on transparency and introducing safeguarding norms.

Marie Collins, who resigned from the Vatican’s Commission on child protection, frustrated by the thwarting of its recommendations by the Curia, has consistently expressed support for Dr Martin.

Recently, former president, Dr Mary McAleese, expressed the view that Diarmuid Martin had been “absolutely outstanding” in the area of safeguarding and “miles ahead of any of his peers in any other country”.

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Newsrust: Bishop Dermot Farrell appointed Archbishop of Dublin as Diarmuid Martin begins retirement
Bishop Dermot Farrell appointed Archbishop of Dublin as Diarmuid Martin begins retirement
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