Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady

Eamon Martin becomes Catholic Primate of All Ireland

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady as Archbishop of Armagh and Catholic Primate of All Ireland.

Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin automatically succeeds to both positions under canon law.

Cardinal Brady, who was 75 on August 16th last, submitted his resignation letter in July. As also required by canon law, every bishop must do so on reaching the age of 75. However he remains a cardinal for life and may take part in papal elections (conclaves) until he is 80.

In a statement this morning, Cardinal Brady congratulated Dr Martin and thanked the priests and people of the Armagh archdiocese and of Ireland as well as members of the other churches for “their welcome, friendship and so much kindness over many years.”


He said he hoped “to live near Armagh and to continue pursuing these aims by helping out pastorally wherever I can and whenever I am needed. I am looking forward to retirement and, no doubt, it will take me some time to get used to it, but it will be good to have more time for family, friends and to follow the football!”

In a separate statement, Dr Martin thanked Cardinal Brady and said it was “a day for us to recognise the years of service which you have given to the Church in Armagh and beyond”.

He added: “At the same time he always presents as a gentle and humble man who is never fully comfortable in the limelight. I want to thank Cardinal Sean personally for the kindness he has shown me since I came to Armagh last year, and for allowing me every opportunity to get to know the diocese. I know that I can count on his prayers and support in the years to come.”

Dr Martin said he felt” humbled to be following in the footsteps of St Patrick, and like him, I pray for ‘God’s strength to pilot me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s shield to protect me’.”

He said he will hold a Mass in Armagh Cathedral on Tuesday October 7th, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, to “ask for God’s blessing”.

Cardinal Brady was ordained a priest 50 years ago in 1964. A native of Drumcalpin near Laragh Co Cavan he attended national school there before goinbg on to St Patrick's College Cavan.

In 1957, he entered St Patrick’s College Maynooth where he obtained a degree in ancient classics in 1960. He furthered his studies in Rome at the Irish College and secured a licentiate in theology in 1964. He was ordained that same year in Rome before continuing his studies in canon law in which he secured a doctorate in 1967.

He returned to Cavan to teach at St Patrick’s College later that year.

In 1980, he was appointed vice rector of the Irish College in Rome - becoming rector in 1987 - and remained there until 1993, when he was appointed parish priest of Castletara, Ballyhaise, Co Cavan.

In February 1995, he was ordained Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh and, following the retirement of Cardinal Cahal Daly, became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in October 1996. In November 2007, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI.

In 2008, he was appointed to the Vatican’s Council for Promoting Christian Unity and its Council for Culture.

In March 2010, it emerged that in 1975, while a teacher at St Patrick's College in Cavan town, he took park in investigations into allegations by 14-year-old Brendan Boland that he had been abused by paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth. As part of the investigation process, he swore Brendan Boland to secrecy and another boy he interviewed in connection with similar allegations which were not reported to the civil authorities.

A BBC documentary in May 2012 revealed he had been given the names of five other children at that 1975 investigation who Brendan Boland believed were being abused by Fr Smyth and that nothing was done about this. These were repeated by Mr Boland in his book ‘Sworn to Silence’, published last July.

Last July, Irish clerical child abuse survivor Marie Kane (43) met Pope Francis and asked him to remove Cardinal Brady as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland due to his handling of the clerical child abuse inquiry in 1975.

A Coadjutor Archbishop of Amragh was announced in January 2013. Msgr Eamon Martin had been apostolic administrator to his native Derry diocese.

Ordained priest in 1987 Archbishop Martin grew up in Derry city, attended St Columb’s College there where he was president from 1999 to 2008.

He has degrees s in mathematical science from NUI Maynooth, theology from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and an MPhil in school development from the University of Cambridge.

In 2008, he was appointed secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference. He also served as director of the Church’s child protection watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children.

On the resignation of Bishop Seamus Hegarty, he was appointed apostolic administrator of Derry diocese in November 2011. His consecration as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh took place in April of last year.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times