By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 August, 2014
Cardinal Seán Brady issued a statement on Friday in which he confirmed that he offered his resignation as Archbishop of Armagh to the Pope a month ago.
In his short statement, the Cardinal said he tendered his resignation in accordance with the requirement of canon law.
“I did so in anticipation of my seventy-fifth birthday” which he celebrates today.
Recalling that on 18 January 2013, Pope Benedict XVI had acceded to his request for episcopal support and that Archbishop Eamon Martin was appointed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Brady said this meant that “as soon as Pope Francis accepts my resignation Archbishop Eamon will become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.”
Elsewhere in his statement, the Cardinal paid tribute to his successor, stating that “Archbishop Eamon has been warmly welcomed into the diocese. He has worked tirelessly in getting to know its priests, religious and lay faithful, as well as by becoming involved in every aspect of the life of the Church in Armagh and beyond.”
He concluded by stating that he looked “forward to the day when my resignation will be accepted and when Archbishop Eamon will take over as Archbishop, a position for which, I believe, he is excellently prepared.”
Dr Brady has been under pressure in recent weeks from Irish clerical abuse survivors, including Marie Kane who met Pope Francis on 7 July, to stand down immediately over his role in a canonical inquiry into abuse by paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth.
Within the past month, Brendan Boland who was abused by the notorious Smyth, published in his account of the church authorities’ handling of his abuse in his book ‘Sworn to Silence’.
The book reproduced for the first time transcripts signed by the then Fr John Brady, who was a notary in the 1975 canonical process, and the oath of secrecy which Boland was made to sign and which Fr Brady oversaw.
Last December, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church published its review of the Archdiocese of Armagh and praised Cardinal Sean Brady for adopting a more focused and committed approach to the safeguarding of children since he took over the diocese.
The Cardinal has often been praised for his role in the peace process in Northern Ireland, and he was the first leader of the Irish Church to meet DUP leader, Rev Ian Paisley.
Cardinal Brady was ordained a priest in 1964 after studying for the priesthood in Maynooth and Rome.
As a seminarian he played at minor level for his native Cavan and was even selected for senior level but had to pass it up when he was sent to study in Rome where he obtained a doctorate in canon law.
After ordination he taught at his alma mater St Patrick’s College in Cavan and was later appointed rector of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome from 1987 until 1993.
During Italia ’90, it was Mgr Brady who introduced Jack Charlton and the national football team to Pope John Paul II.
On his return to Ireland in 1993, he was appointed parish priest of Castletara (Ballyhaise).
In December 1994, Mgr Brady was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh by Pope John Paul II to assist Cardinal Cahal Daly, whom he succeeded in February 1996.
He was made a cardinal in 2007.
Dr Brady was the only churchman to represent the catholic church in Ireland and Britain at the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013.
Last December, in an interview with the Irish Independent, Cardinal Brady said he was looking forward to his retirement.
“I have been a bishop since 1995. Benedict has put a good model forward for us,” he said.
The Primate said he had “no precise plans” for when he retired. “I was ordained to be a priest in a parish and I’ve spent one year of my life in parish work so maybe I’ll get a chance to spend some time in parish work before I die.”
He is due to attend the launch in Rome on 11 October of the Columban year, which will mark the 1,400 anniversary of the death of the Irish missionary saint who lived between 543 and 615.