The Pope has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady as the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
The cardinal, who passed the retirement age of 75 on August 16, will be succeeded by Archbishop Eamon Martin.
Archbishop Martin was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh by Benedict XVI on January 18 2013.
In a statement, Cardinal Brady said: “I am pleased that Pope Francis has today accepted the resignation which I offered to him on the occasion of my 75th birthday. I warmly congratulate Archbishop Eamon Martin who today becomes Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Coarb Phadraic. Let us rejoice and be glad.
“I pray that God may give to Archbishop Eamon in abundance all the graces he needs and I assure him of my help and total support at all times. Indeed I am quite confident that the people of the archdiocese – priests, religious and lay faithful – will give to their new archbishop the same whole-hearted support and faith-filled loyalty which they have always given to me and for which I will be eternally grateful.
Cardinal Brady recalled that he had been appointed a bishop by St John Paul II, worked closely with Benedict XVI and took part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
“That conclave has been the highlight of my life,” he said. “Pope Francis’s motto, Miserando atque eligendo, 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. At the same time, Pope Francis’s 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.
“The people of the Archdiocese of Armagh and the people of Ireland will remain in my prayers for the rest of my life. I ask the favour of your prayers to help me continue to serve God as best I can all the days God gives me. God bless you always.”
In his statement, Archbishop Eamon Martin, 52, said: “During my years as executive secretary to the Irish Bishops’ Conference I saw at first hand the mammoth amount of work undertaken by Cardinal Brady as President of the Episcopal Conference and his tireless commitment to representing the Catholic Church in Ireland at countless national and international engagements. At the same time he always presents as a gentle and humble man who is never fully comfortable in the limelight. I want to thank Cardinal Seán personally for the kindness he has shown me since I came to Armagh last year, and for allowing me every opportunity to get to know the diocese. I know that I can count on his prayers and support in the years to come.
“I genuinely feel honoured to assume the role of ‘Shepherd’ in the Archdiocese of Armagh. I look forward to serving the people of 61 parishes in the counties of Armagh, Derry, Louth and Tyrone. I feel humbled to be following in the footsteps of St Patrick, and like him, I pray for ‘God’s strength to pilot me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s shield to protect me’. Over the past 16 months I have been encouraged and inspired by the enthusiasm of our young people and the dedication of our teachers, the commitment and pastoral care given by our priests and religious, and the willingness of so many people to become actively involved in the life of their parishes and diocese.
“I was ordained a bishop just a month after the election of Pope Francis. I chose my episcopal motto to be: ‘Sing a New Song to the Lord’, because I think we are all being challenged nowadays to find fresh ways of bringing the Gospel into the world. Pope Francis inspires us to write that new song in a ‘missionary key’, and reach out to everyone in society with the love and friendship of Jesus. People have been asking me to put ‘fresh heart’ into the renewal of the Church in this country.
“But I am only one person with all my inadequacies and sinfulness. The task of bringing the encouragement of faith to the world belongs to all of us – people, priests, religious Sisters and brothers, bishops – working together in communion with Christ and with one another. I am certain that a humble renewal in the Church in Ireland will only come about as our lay people exercise their specific vocation and mission to hand on the faith and to insert the Gospel into the reality of their daily lives and work.
“I pray that my heart can be more like the Heart of Jesus, burning with love for everyone. Not far from all of us today are people who feel isolated or lonely; people whose hearts are heavy with worry, illness or anxiety; perhaps someone whose heart is broken by grief or loss; a man or woman whose heart has grown colder because of some cruelty or emptiness in their lives – past or present. Every day, then, as long as this today lasts, let us keep encouraging one another with the love and compassion of Christ.”
Archbishop Martin said he would celebrate Mass on October 7 at his cathedral “to ask God’s blessing and the protection of Mary at this important milestone for me and for the archdiocese”.