Brady applauded at Armagh mass


The applause that rippled through Armagh’s vast St Patrick’s Cathedral as Dr Séan Brady entered this morning stated in the clearest terms exactly what his parishioners think of their cardinal.

Contained and measured, the spontaneous gesture nevertheless sent out a loud message to those calling for the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland to step down.

The majority of the 300-strong congregation applauded him again after his apologetic homily and as he left the magnificent church at the close of St Patrick’s Day mass.

“We didn’t need to clap him,” parishioner Maura McClean said afterwards, “because I think God will applaud him”.

“But that was the reaction of the decent people of Armagh. I think he’s a true genuine person who’s done no wrong.”

Her sentiments were echoed by many fellow church goers after they shook hands with Cardinal Brady as he greeted them on the steps of the cathedral.

Marie Ryan said to condemn him for failing to alert the authorities about notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth 35 years ago was to judge him using today’s standards.

“It was a different era back then and a lot of things happened that shouldn’t,” she said.

“But he definitely has to stay - he shouldn’t resign.”

The cardinal belied few outward signs of the storm brewing round him as he talked with parishioners outside.

He smiled and thanked people for their best wishes, at one point he even broke into an impromptu verse of happy birthday for a parishioner celebrating her 70th year.

Pat Hamilton said there were tears in many eyes as the cardinal conducted mass.

“I thought it was wonderful and very emotional too - you could see it in people’s faces,” he said.

On his interpretation of the applause he said: “That was just to let him know we are behind him, that’s what I thought.

“I would feel the vast majority of people in Armagh are behind him.”