Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Archbishop faces stern challenges

The ordination of Archbishop Eamon Martin as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh is an important step in the outreach of the Catholic Church, and also in the life of the local community. Archbishop Martin's appointment has been warmly welcomed by Protestant Church leaders, as well as key figures in community and business life, and this augurs well for his tenure in Armagh, after a distinguished teaching and clerical career based in Derry.

The appointment of a Coadjutor Archbishop is generally the signal that the new man will eventually succeed the senior Archbishop of Armagh as Primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland. There is little doubt Archbishop Martin will succeed Cardinal Sean Brady who became Coadjutor Archbishop and eventually took over as Primate after Cardinal Cahal Daly's retirement. Much will depend on when Cardinal Brady chooses to step down, and also upon when Archbishop Martin feels sufficiently experienced to take over, but the decision will need approval by the Vatican.

Archbishop Martin spoke yesterday about the need for fresh ways of presenting the Gospel, and the important values of family and solidarity, and also of charity, truth and justice.

In a carefully phrased statement he also noted that some people will not want to listen, and those who have been hurt and betrayed in the past find themselves unable to trust the Church's message.

He also acknowledged the need to bind wounds. This applies not only to the victims of clerical child sex abuse but also to many Catholics who have felt badly let down by the failure of their Church to deal properly with this outrageous scandal.

Archbishop Martin has many other urgent problems to face, including falling congregations, the worrying lack of clerical ordinations and the general distrust of many Church values in a secular age. He will have some breathing space before he takes over, but in the meantime he has the good wishes of people from all backgrounds as he faces the stern challenges of his most important office.

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