Thurles will be hit with the news that the Cathedral of the Assumption, built in 1879 and based on the Cathedral in Pisa, will have its status reduced to a Church following the metting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth on Wednesday.
While confusion reigns over the new proposed seat of Bishop Kieran O’Reilly, it is assumed that the Dioceses of Cashel and Emly and Ossory will be merged with the new Bishop to be installed in Kilkenny.
Speaking to Tipperary Times, Fr John Maguire denounced the move as regressive. “We are a Catholic country. People come to mass as a social event. We say mass every week and we know the lads down the back are chatting away, but their spirit is within the walls of the church and we are happy to facilitate a forum where people can congregate and hear the word of God in the process”
We were unable to speak with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly before publication, however he is said the be infuriated by the decision and plans to travel to Rome to meet with Cardinals and Pope Francis to campaign against the planned downgrade and amalgamation of the two dioceses with a range of plans on how to bring the crowds back to mass. One controversial suggestion is the installation of WiFi to allow mass-goers keep up to date with the world around them while immersed in the spiritual confines of Mass.
Such downgrades and upgrades of sites of religious status are not unheard of. In 1986, the Holy Stone of Clonrichert in Fermanagh was moved to a small parish in County Clare as the site was not attracting the visitor numbers it had hoped. In 1991, the same stone was upgrade to a Class II Relic following a miraculous event. Speaking at the time about the upgrade, local priest Fr Crilly was said to be overjoyed that the Vatican would bestow such an honour on their local relic.