By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tSociety of African Missions Fr. Kieran O’Reilly, a leading voice among religious in Rome and a veteran missionary in Liberia and Nigeria, was appointed this morning the new Bishop of Killaloe in Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI.
tO’Reilly has served as Superior General of the Society of African Missions since 2001.
tO’Reilly replaces Bishop William Walsh, who resigned for reasons of age. Three other Irish bishops have recently stepped down amid that country’s sexual abuse crisis, with two other resignations offered but not yet accepted. Given that there are just 31 members of the Irish bishops’ conference, Benedict XVI is effectively overhauling the country’s episcopacy.
tIt’s the nature of a crisis that sometimes choices with important long-term consequences are made on the fly. In the case of O’Reilly, his nomination has at least three implications worth pondering, beyond its immediate implications for the sexual abuse crisis: