Cardinal Sean Brady has insisted he will not resign.
Speaking in Ennis, Co Clare, the Archbishop of Armagh quashed rumours circulating in clerical circles that he had offered his resignation to Pope Benedict.
According to some Church sources, Ireland’s Catholic Primate travelled to Rome before Easter to tender his resignation.
This was shortly after it emerged last spring that, 35 years ago when a canon law expert in his native Cavan, he had sworn two children to silence about their horrendous abuse by notorious paedophile monk Brendan Smyth.
After avoiding media comment for six months, Cardinal Brady yesterday broke his silence to say: “This is not true about my resigning. I am not resigning.”
The cardinal revealed that he will have the opportunity to meet Pope Benedict next month during the pontiff's visit to Scotland and England.
“I plan to accompany Pope Benedict in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham,” he said.
However, the cardinal refused to answer questions about last week's sensational revelations that his predecessor, Cardinal William Conway, transferred a Derry priest — believed to be responsible for the Claudy bombing that killed nine innocent people in 1972 — across the border to a remote Donegal parish.
An investigation by the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland published last week showed that at the request of the Government and RUC, Cardinal Conway colluded in giving the priest the church's sanctuary rather than urging them to arrest the priest for suspected murders.
The cardinal was speaking yesterday ahead of the consecration as Bishop of Killaloe of missionary priest Kieran O'Reilly in succession to Bishop Willie Walsh.
Later, dressed in his crimson robes, Cardinal Brady presided at a colourful ceremony of dance and song in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul in Ennis, where he received a standing ovation from the large congregation which included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin.