People still need church, says new primate Eamon Martin
The new leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said he can't work miracles – but pledged to lead his flock through a process of "humble renewal".
Archbishop Eamon Martin succeeded Cardinal Sean Brady as Primate of All Ireland yesterday, taking over a leadership role which covers the 26 dioceses across the island of Ireland.
The 52-year-old Londonderry native becomes the 116th Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in succession to St Patrick.
He said that even though people are living in a very fast world with many commitments, he believed "people still need God in their lives and they need their church. There is still a lot of hope in people that they would like a renewal of their church".
But he cautioned against over optimism.
"I am only one person. I wouldn't want to give any impression that somehow I can work miracles for the church in Ireland. We're living in a very different Ireland now. It is a new context and therefore we need to learn ways of bringing the Gospel."
His appointment follows the Vatican's acceptance of Cardinal Brady's resignation, which was tendered in August when he turned 75.
Yesterday, Cardinal Brady, whose final years at the head of the clergy were dogged by abuse scandals, apologised and asked for forgiveness.
He had faced repeated calls from clerical abuse survivors to quit over his involvement in the Brendan Smyth case.
The canon lawyer swore two victims of the notorious paedophile priest to secrecy during an internal church inquiry in 1975 into the abuse of two children.
In a farewell message at mass in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh he said he recalled Pope Francis' motto "miserando atque eligendo" which he said "challenges and inspires me with its message of God having mercy and at the same time choosing us, despite our sinfulness".
"It reminds me that I too need to say sorry and to ask forgiveness. And I do so again, now," Cardinal Brady said. "At the same time, Pope Francis' motto inspires me to trust in the mercy of God and to pray for the strength to do always as Jesus would have me do."
Referring to the clerical abuse scandal, his successor explained his concept of "humble renewal".
"A church that is humble is a church on our knees, hopefully in prayer, recognising the terrible things that have happened in the past and the need to ask God's mercy and to ask forgiveness of people," Archbishop Martin said.