The Irish News understands the leading contenders are Dr Donal Mc Keown (56), an auxiliary bishop of the diocese, Dr John McAreavey (57), the Bishop of Dromore, and Clogher priest Monsignor Noel Treanor (54), who heads COMEC (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community), the Brussels-based body which lobbies the European Union on behalf of the Catholic Church.
He further notes:
The appointment comes at a significant time for the Church because – with new bishops due also to be appointed to the dioceses of Achonry and Ossory – the combined changes give Pope Benedict XVI his first opportunity to shape the make up of the ageing Irish episcopacy. Down and Connor is the north’s largest diocese and is regarded as highly important by the Vatican because in addition to pastoral responsibilities its bishop plays a role in issues such as education, politics and liaising with government.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty