Despite the fact that Dr Colm O’Reilly is ready to leave his position as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, having sent his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict nearly two years ago, the Catholic Bishop’s Office has confirmed that Pope Francis has yet to finalise details in relation to the Bishop’s retirement.
Dr O’Reilly has been Bishop of the diocese since 1986 and already this year, five new bishops have been installed across the country. With eight dioceses including Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Clogher, Derry, Down and Connor, Dromore, Kilmore, Meath and Raphoe in Ireland, the fact remains that there are just three positions left to fill including the much anticipated vacancy in Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
Speaking to the Leader, Dr O’Reilly said that he was expecting an announcement in respect of the matter soon, and was meanwhile preparing himself “quietly” for life in retirement.
“Based on the fact that other places have been filled, I would anticipate that the position in this diocese will be announced soon. It is the Pope who decides, so I will have to wait for him to appoint a new bishop.”
The highly respected Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois then went on to point to the various dioceses where new bishops were appointed recently, and spoke elequently of Fr Raymond Browne, Parish Priest of Kilgefin, Ballyleague who was appointed Bishop of Kerry just last month. “There are five bishops approved out of eight and the normal procedure in relation to these matters will be followed by Pope Francis,” Bishop O’Reilly added. “At the moment I am living in a nice house in Longford town and coming into my office every day, so when the day comes to retire, one blessing I will have, is that I won’t have to move!”
In a statement, the Catholic Bishop’s Office said, “The Catholic Communications Office publishes the announcement by the Holy Father Pope Francis of a new bishop when it receives this information, and the office has not been advised of any such news [in Ardagh and Clonmacnois] for today”.