Eamon Martin to succeed Brady


Monsignor Eamon Martin, administrator of Derry diocese, has been appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh with the right in canon law to succeed Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady when he retires.

Cardinal Brady is officially due to retire when he reaches the age of 75 in August 2014 - and he may continue in office until that date.

The Cardinal has been subject to much criticism since it emerged in March 2010 that he had conducted inquiries into allegations of child sex abuse involving Fr Brendan Smyth in 1975 at the conclusion of which he swore to secrecy two boys who he believed were abused by the priest.

Following the then Fr Brady’s investigation, Fr Smyth was prevented from ministering in Cardinal Brady’s native Kilmore diocese until 1984. The civil authorities were not informed of Fr Smyth’s abuse of children and he continued to abuse young people until shortly before his imprisonment by a Belfast court in 1994.

Cardinal Brady said today he requested in 2010 that Pope Benedict appoint a senior cleric to the Armagh Archdiocese to assist him. “Today my request has been granted and I am so very thankful to the Holy Father for acceding to my request,” he said.

“I have known Monsignor Eamon for quite a number of years. When I knew him first, he was principal of St Columb’s College, Derry, one of the leading post-primary schools in this country, where, I am reliably informed, he did an excellent job. Later, he became secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference where he did outstanding work."

“As president of the Episcopal Conference, it was my good fortune to work closely with him and appreciate his many good qualities. As Vicar General and more recently as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Derry, Monsignor Martin has gained invaluable experience.”

Monsignor Martin said he was shocked when told of the appointment. “I am very conscious of the great trust that the Holy Father has placed in me, but in truth I have to admit it was with considerable nervousness and trepidation that I accepted his call,” he said.

Msgr Martin addressed the abuse scandals that have been exposed over the last two decades. “One of the greatest challenges facing our Church is to acknowledge, live with, and learn from the past, including the terrible trauma caused by abuse,” he said.

“I think today of all those who have been abused by clergy, and the hurt and betrayal they have experienced."

“I am saddened that many good Catholics were let down so badly over the issue of abuse and that some have even stopped practising their faith. It saddens me because I love God and I love the Church that I serve."

Msgr Martin had been appointed vicar general of Derry in May 2010, previously to which he had been executive secretary of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference.

A native of Pennyburn in Derry city,  he attended St Patrick’s College Maynooth after second level education at St Columb’s College, Derry. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Mathematical Science from the NUI, Maynooth, a Bachelor of Divinity (Honours) Degree, from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (with distinction) from Queen’s University, Belfast and a Master of Philosophy Degree from Cambridge University.

Born in 1961, he was ordained a priest in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, Derry, on June 28th, 1987, and served as curate in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, from 1987 to 1989.

Following this he completed his one-year Post Graduate Certificate in Education, before being appointed to teach at St Columb’s College, Derry, of which he subsequently became president, in the year 2000. In 2008 he was appointed executive secretary of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference.

Later today Cardinal Brady will lead a Catholic church delegation at a meeting with the Government in Dublin. It is part of the ongoing “structured dialogue” process involving the churches, other faiths and ethical communities.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be accompanied in Government Buildings by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, Minister for Health James Reilly and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald.

The church delegation will be led by Cardinal Brady, who will be accompanied by Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Dr Colm O’Reilly, Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley, Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly, Fr Michael Drumm, chairman of the Catholic Schools Partnership, and Fr Gearóid Dullea and Fr Tim Bartlett of the Irish Episcopal Conference secretariat.

The agenda is expected to include abortion legislation, school patronage and the divesting of Catholic-run schools to other patron bodies. Recent unrest in Belfast and the pressures of the recession are also expected to be discussed.

A plenary meeting was hosted by the Taoiseach in May 2011. It was attended by Cardinal Brady, senior representatives of other Christian churches, senior Muslims, Jews, Bahá’is and humanists.

A native of Laragh, Co Cavan, in the diocese of Kilmore, Cardinal Brady was born in August 1939. He was educated at Caulfield national school, Laragh; St Patrick’s College, Cavan; St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and the Irish College, Rome, where he was ordained in February 1964. He received a doctorate in canon law at Rome’s Lateran University in 1967.

His first appointment was as a teacher in St Patrick’s College, Cavan, where he worked from 1967-80. In 1980 he was appointed vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome and in 1987 became rector there, a post he held until 1993 when he returned to Ireland to become parish priest at Ballyhaise in Co Cavan.

On February 19th,1995 he was himself ordained Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, and on the retirement of Cardinal Cahal Daly succeeded him as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on October 1st, 1996. He was installed as Archbishop of Armagh on November 3rd, 1996.

On October 17th, 2007, Pope Benedict announced Archbishop Brady was to be created a cardinal and he was elevated to the College of Cardinals at a ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica on November 24th, 2007. He is currently chair of the Irish Episcopal Conference.

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