A priest in the Archdiocese of Armagh has been asked to take a period of leave because of concerns about child safety.
Cardinal Sean Brady, who is himself facing criticism over his handling of child sex allegations, told the unnamed priest to step aside for a time while an investigation is carried out.
The All Ireland Primate told the undisclosed congregation during a vigil mass on Saturday.
In a statement posted online yesterday Cardinal Brady said: “The policy of Archdiocese of Armagh is that in all matters relating to child safeguarding, the safety and welfare of the child must be our paramount concern.”
It is understood the priest agreed to take the period of leave from his ministry after being asked by the Cardinal.
The statement continued: “This is to allow the civil authorities, who have been informed, to investigate this matter.”
Cardinal Brady emphasised that the priest “continues to enjoy the right to the presumption of innocence whilst these matters are being investigated” and urged anyone with allegations against any member of the clergy to come forward.
“May I take this opportunity again to invite any person who may have been abused by a priest to come forward to the diocese and/or to make contact with the civil authorities,” he said.
Despite promising to embrace a new era of openness and transparency the Catholic Church would not disclose from which parish the priest has been asked to leave.
Last night spokesman for the Archdiocese of Armagh said they had nothing to add to the Cardinal’s statement.
Last week Cardinal Brady was forced to reject calls for his resignation after it emerged that he attended two meetings in the 1970s when two children who had been abused by Father Brendan Smyth were sworn to secrecy.
Cardinal Brady is being sued in his personal capacity — as well as in his role as Catholic Primate of All Ireland — by a woman who was raped by the notorious paedophile priest over five years.
Smyth was at the centre of one of the first child sex scandals to rock the Catholic Church and was convicted of molesting about 90 boys and girls here and in Northern Ireland over a 40-year period.
It is alleged Cardinal Brady and the others at the meetings failed to pass information provided by the victims to police.