Belfast Telegraph

As he turns 75 today, Cardinal Brady awaits Pope's decision on resignation

By Sarah MacDonald

Cardinal Sean Brady has said he is looking forward to the Pope's acceptance of his resignation, signalling he will not seek to have his term of office extended.

In a brief statement, the Cardinal stated: "I look forward to the day when my resignation will be accepted and when Archbishop Eamon will take over as Archbishop."

He also confirmed that he offered his resignation to Pope Francis ahead of his 75th birthday, the day on which bishops are required by canon law to tender their resignations.

As revealed on Thursday, the cardinal confirmed that his resignation was sent to the Vatican last month, well in advance of his birthday.

His letter coincided with a call from clerical abuse survivor Marie Kane, who met Pope Francis on July 7, for the Catholic Primate to stand down immediately.

Within the past month, Brendan Boland, who was abused by the notorious serial paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth, published 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 month I offered my resignation to Pope Francis in accordance with the requirement of Canon Law. I did so in anticipation of my 75th birthday," the Cardinal said. He celebrates that birthday today.

Recalling that on January 18, 2013, Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop Eamon Martin 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".

Dr Brady, who has been Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland since 1996, said he believed Archbishop Martin was "excellently prepared".

"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 said of his 52-year-old successor.

Another clerical abuse victim, Marie Collins, said: "As far as I am concerned he should have resigned before now."

In May 2012, Cardinal Brady apologised to one of the teenagers abused by Smyth but said he had no intention of stepping aside. In December 2009 Cardinal Brady said that he would resign if a child had been abused as a result of a failure on his part.

His failure to report Brendan Boland's abuse to the civil authorities or inform the parents of children whom Boland told him were also being abused by Smyth has led some of Smyth's victims to claim the Cardinal bears some responsibility for the abuse which might have been stopped had he acted.

Survivors demanded he be sacked

Cardinal Sean Brady has faced sustained calls to stand down from clerical sex abuse survivors.

Last month Pope Francis promised to hold bishops accountable for the protection of children and begged forgiveness from victims after he celebrated a Mass with six survivors at the Vatican in Rome.

One of the six, Marie Kane, said she asked the pontiff to remove Cardinal Brady from his post because of the way he handled abuse allegations. She said she told Pope Francis a “cover-up is still happening” and he has “the power to make these changes”. Cardinal Brady has been heavily criticised for swearing two victims of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth to secrecy during an internal church inquiry in 1975. Their evidence was never handed over to police, allowing Smyth to continue abusing children before he was finally jailed in 1994.

Last December an investigation by church watchdog the National Board for Safeguarding Children said Cardinal Brady made a “commendable decision to gather and document whatever information was available” about abuse allegations in his own archdiocese on taking up his role as Primate of All Ireland in 1996. At the time he said he was truly sorry for the suffering of victims. He also apologised to Smyth’s victims, but previously refused to resign over it.

Cardinal Brady has led the church in Ireland for more than 17 years during which time a series of investigations exposed shocking levels of clerical abuse.

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