Tributes paid to Cardinal Seán Brady

Cleric described as a ‘humble pastor of deep faith’ who ‘worked tirelessly to achieve peace in Ireland’

Many tributes have been paid to Cardinal Seán Brady whose resignation as Catholic primate and Archbishop of Armagh has been accepted by Pope Francis, as announced this morning.

The Church of Ireland primate and Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke wished "God's blessing and every happiness" for Cardinal Seán Brady in his forthcoming retirement. "He has been a good friend to successive Archbishops of Armagh and to the wider Church of Ireland throughout his archiepiscopate, and we are grateful to him for this unaffected generosity of spirit," he said.

“I wish to thank Seán for real kindness and warm friendship over many years. We all hope that he will enjoy both true fulfilment and good health in the years ahead.”

He said it was "a pleasure at this juncture to pray the blessing of God also for Archbishop Eamon Martin, as he takes up new and demanding responsibilities as Archbishop of Armagh.


"I very much look forward to working collaboratively with Eamon as he now embarks on this new phase in his ministry, and in the life of the Roman Catholic Church here in Ireland."

The Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Michael Barry said Cardinal Brady "has a deep spirituality which has been so evident to those who met and worked alongside him during his years as Archbishop of Armagh." He had "sought to give leadership to his people through both good and difficult times during his 18 years in office and many will miss him greatly".

On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, he wished the Cardinal “a long, peaceful retirement” and said they looked forward “to working with Archbishop Eamon Martin as he takes up his new role as Primate of All Ireland and wish him well as he assumes new responsibilities”.

Rev Dr Donald Watts, former Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, current president of the Irish Council of Churches and co-chair of the Irish Inter Church Meeting, said of Cardinal Brady: "I have always appreciated his patient thoughtfulness, his deep spirituality and gift of friendship."

He wished to acknowledge his “enormous contribution” to inter-church relations in Ireland. “He chaired meetings with a gentle humility that has enabled rich dialogue and built understanding. As he retires we enjoy unprecedented positive relationships between our member churches.”

He congratulated Archbishop Martin and noted, “ with enthusiasm that he has expressed the desire to share the friendship and passion for the Gospel of Christ with the other Christian traditions in Ireland and to encourage one another. We look forward to realising this within the inter-church structures.”

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland Rev Peter Murray said that "at heart Cardinal Seán Brady is and no doubt will remain a pastor" who "in his own quiet way... encouraged the peace process in Northern Ireland".

Those from the other Irish churches had experienced the Cardinal’s “hospitality and warmth in his Armagh home and his concern for a closer working relationship between the Irish churches”.

“God’s blessing on his future life where no doubt his pastoral skills will be used” and on his successor Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore diocese, of which Cardinal Brady was a priest, said it was “ a sad day” for him personally and for his many friends in his native diocese of Kilmore. “On this day of mixed emotion I wish to acknowledge Cardinal Seán’s innate decency and personal kindness, and I will miss his support, wisdom and outstanding leadership of the Bishops’ Conference.”

The Cardinal was “a humble pastor of deep faith and is gifted with a strong pastoral instinct. These defining qualities have equipped him well over the last 20 years as he led the Catholic Church through our most turbulent period since the Penal Laws.

“Cardinal Seán has worked tirelessly to achieve peace in Ireland; he prioritised and oversaw the development of robust child safeguarding guidelines for the Church; in the area of pastoral ministry he led the introduction of the permanent diaconate to Ireland; and at all times he promoted Gospel values and the faith in our contemporary society which is much less receptive to hearing the message of the Good News than in previous times.”

Bishop O’Reilly also wished Archbishop Eamonn Martin, “every blessing and happiness” in new role.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times