It had been widely believed he would earlier this year have been appointed the next bishop of Galway to replace the 75-year-old Dr James McLoughlin. But when that post became vacant there were still many problems to be sorted out in Ferns and it was decided that Bishop Walsh was too important to move. It is felt, however, that in recognition of his work he will be given a diocese or an equally senior appointment in the near future.
Bishop Walsh was appointed Apostolic Administrator, or caretaker, of Ferns in 2002 and was being widely tipped to formally take over the diocese later this year. Now church sources indicate that this is unlikely. Dr Walsh took over as administrator of the diocese when Bishop Comiskey resigned his post due to public outrage over his handling of the Fr Sean Fortune case. Fortune was a notorious child abuser. Since becoming caretaker, Bishop Walsh has suspended a number of priests following allegations of abuse. This led to criticisms that he did not sufficiently recognise the accused priests' right to their good names.
Last year, Fr Jim Curtis, parish priest in Clongeen in the Ferns diocese, was critical when Bishop Walsh failed to state publicly whether a curate who had been cleared of wrongdoing by a garda inquiry was to be reinstated.
David Quinn Religious Affairs Correspondent Irish Independent