Pope Francis has appointed Nigerian Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo as apostolic nuncio to Ireland.

Archbishop Okolo is the first African to represent the Holy See in the country. The archbishop previously served as nuncio to the Central African Republic and Chad, then as diplomatic representative to the Dominican Republic. He will take up his new role in Ireland in the summer.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh welcomed his appointment, saying: “Archbishop Okolo’s rich experience in the diplomatic service of the Holy See means that he brings many gifts to bear on his new mission in Ireland.”

Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests, a pressure group that says it represents 1,000 clergy, welcomed Archbishop Okolo’s appointment while strongly criticising his predecessor Archbishop Charles Brown, who has been posted to Albania. “It is no secret that under the last nuncio, [Pope] Francis’s vision of an open Church was not reflected in the appointment of bishops,” the association claimed.

“During that time there has been, with one or two exceptions, a clear lack of leadership from Irish bishops, even a marked reluctance to follow the example of Pope Francis.”

They said that in recent years, only “safe, compliant, ultra-orthodox men” had been appointed bishops, adding: “Men with either vision or leadership ability were largely excluded from consideration.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection