Archbishop Alibrandi came to Ireland in 1969. Describing Ireland as “the world’s most Catholic country”, he served here for 20 years before retiring. He was a controversial figure, often accused of interfering in matters of State, and was a strong voice concerning Northern Ireland, divorce and abortion. One of the key decisions he made during his time in Ireland was persuading Pope John Paul to visit Ireland when the visit appeared to be in doubt.
This followed fears for his security after the murder of Earl Mountbatten a month before the planned visit. After the murder, strenuous efforts were made by the British to stop the visit to Ireland. Archbishop Alibrandi was told but immediately asked for an announcement to be withheld and left immediately for Rome. At an audience with Pope John Paul he convinced him the political situation was not as bad in Ireland as he had been told. Archbishop Alibrandi was born on the January 14, 1914 in Castiglione di Sicilia, diocese of Acireale (Sicily). He was ordained a priest on November 1, 1936. After attending the Pontifical Seminary of Rome, he obtained a Doctorate in Divinity from the Pontifical Lateran University. On entering the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1941, he served for five years in the Vatican Secretariat of State and subsequently in the Apostolic Nunciatures in Italy, Turkey, Ireland, Mexico and Indonesia. He was appointed Titular Archbishop of Binda and Apostolic Nuncio to Chile on October 5, 1961 and received his Episcopal Ordination on December 8, 1961. He also served as Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon (1964-1969) prior to his appointment to Ireland in 1969. After reaching the retirement age of 75, he returned to his home town in Sicily and there he died on Thursday. His funeral mass was celebrated in Castiglione di Sicilia by Archbishop Paolo Romeo, Apostolic Nuncio to Italy. A memorial mass for Archbishop Alibrandi will be celebrated by Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, on Friday, July 11 at 7.30pm in the Church of Our Lady Help of Christians, Navan Road, Dublin 7.