One of the most influential, albeit low-key, papal nuncios to serve in Ireland will leave for Prague shortly after the Vatican announced his appointment to the Czech Republic earlier this month.
Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo (65) has only been in Ireland for five years, but in that time he has appointed 12 bishops, almost half of the current members of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
He played a pivotal role in preparations for Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland in 2018 and played a key role in securing Vatican permission for the Sisters of Charity to transfer “the entire share capital issued from St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to St Vincent’s Holdings for a nominal amount”. sum of €1.00” in 2020.
In accordance with the provisions of the canon law of the Catholic Church, formal approval of any decision to complete the transfer of extended property to new property by a religious congregation must be obtained from Rome.
At the time, a canon lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Irish Times that the Vatican’s decision meant that the ‘doctrines and teachings’ of the Catholic Church would have ‘no authority or control’. on the new St Vincent’s Hospital Holding CLG or on the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) and that there was no vehicle “through which such authority or control could be exercised”.
Rome consulted the Catholic primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin; then Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, and Archbishop Okolo before making his decision.
The 12 bishops, including two archbishops, who have been appointed since 2017 when Archbishop Okolo arrived in Ireland are:
*Bishop Brendan Kelly, appointed Bishop of Galway in December 2017,
*Bishop Tom Deenihan, appointed Bishop of Meath in 2018,
*Bishop Larry Duffy, appointed Bishop of the Cross-Border Diocese of Clogher in 2018,
*Bishop Fintan Gavin was appointed Bishop of Cork and Ross in 2019,
*Bishop Michael Router was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh in 2019,
*Bishop Michel Duignan was appointed Bishop of Clonfert in 2019,
*Bishop Martin Hayes was appointed Bishop of Kilmore in 2020,
*Bishop Paul Dempsey was appointed Bishop of Achonry in 2020,
*Bishop Dermot Farrell was appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 2020,
*Bishop Ger Nash was appointed Bishop of Fougères in 2021,
*Bishop Francis Duffy appointed Archbishop of Tuam in 2021,
*Bishop Duignan was appointed Bishop of Galway in 2022.
From Nigeria, Bishop Okolo was the first African to be appointed Papal Nuncio to Ireland. A member of the Igbo people, with whom the Irish Holy Spirit/Spiritan priests were so closely associated during the Biafran War in the late 1960s, he was ordained for the Nigerian Diocese of Nnewi in 1983.
After training with the Vatican’s diplomatic service, he was posted in June 1990 to Sri Lanka, then served in Haiti, the Caribbean Islands (including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas and the Jamaica), Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Australia.
His first appointment as papal nuncio was in the Central African Republic and Chad in 2008. In 2013 he was appointed nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, and he was appointed to Ireland in 2017.