Cardinal Sean Brady was willing to resign over the Brendan Smyth affair two years ago but the Vatican refused because it had “no idea” who to replace him with, sources indicate.
The cardinal was in meetings with advisers on Thursday amid growing calls for him to stand down over his handling of child rape allegations against paedophile priest Smyth in 1975.
It has been learned Dr Brady was willing to step down, but dithering by the Vatican delayed the selection of a successor.
Asked if he had indicated his willingness to resign to the Pope two years ago, a Catholic Communications Office spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the claim, which was given currency yesterday by ‘celebrity’ priest Father Brian D'Arcy.
The cardinal's Press spokesman would only say: “We do not have any information on this speculative statement.” He suggested we “contact Father D'Arcy”.
However, senior Church sources confirmed Cardinal Brady wanted to step aside in March 2010.
Fr D'Arcy said yesterday that “some people in the Church believe that Cardinal Brady did offer his resignation two years ago, but that it was rejected by the Vatican”.
One source said the cardinal was now boxed into a corner and “paying the price for the Vatican's indecision”.
“He cannot resign unless it is approved by Rome. Brady is being punished now for something he actually took responsibility for.”