The appointment of an assistant bishop to the Archdiocese of Armagh marks the beginning of the end of Cardinal Sean Brady's 48 years in the Catholic Church.
Well regarded as a teacher and from his time at the Irish College Rome, the religious leader is broadly considered a decent man.
But his clerical career will be forever clouded by his mishandling of a probe into predatory paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.
Cardinal Brady has faced a clamour of calls for his resignation over the scandal after it emerged he failed to share allegations of child sex abuse from the 1970s with police and the victims' parents.
He personally swore 14-year-old Brendan Boland to secrecy after interviewing him in the 1975 inquiry into the charges against Smyth. The teenager's accusations, including names and addresses of other potential victims, were kept under wraps.
Cardinal Brady, then a 36-year-old teaching priest at St Patrick's College boarding school, Co Cavan, with a doctorate in canon law, passed the information to his superiors but Smyth continued to abuse over the next 20 years.
Now, the appointment of his successor in the Armagh Archdiocese has signalled his oncoming retirement.
Catholic-leaning think-tank the Iona Institute said his exit will ultimately benefit the wider church community. Director David Quinn said: "There is no doubt Cardinal Brady will always be remembered for his handling of the Brendan Smyth inquiry. That cast a big shadow on him and that would be the chief reason for him to stand aside earlier than expected."
Most recently, Cardinal Brady has led church opposition against abortion law reform in Ireland. The Vatican's announcement of a successor at this time could be seen as an opportunity for a cleric with greater moral authority and a proven child protection track record to promote the Church's views.
Aged 73, the Cardinal, a native of Cavan, is not required to officially offer his retirement as bishop until 75. He also has the option of extending his service. Mr Quinn said: "He is an extremely nice man - it's impossible to find anybody who knows him personally to say anything bad about him."