After abuse scandal, Pope Benedict appoints new head of the Irish Catholic Church

January 18, 2013

(Cardinal Sean Brady speaks to members of the media outside Armagh cathedral in northern Ireland May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Pope Benedict on Friday appointed the new head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to succeed Cardinal Sean Brady, whose tenure has been plagued by scandal over the sexual abuse of children on the predominantly Roman Catholic island.

The Vatican said Monsignor Eamon Martin, 51, had been named “coadjutor” archbishop of Armagh, meaning he will automatically succeed Brady when he retires next year.

Brady, who will remain primate until his retirement, has resisted calls by three of the four main parties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister to resign over the sexual abuse scandal.

The Vatican’s move was seen as an attempt to give him a soft exit. While it spared him the embarrassment of stepping down before his scheduled retirement, he will effectively be sidestepped as Martin takes over the running of the diocese.

Armagh, which is in Northern Ireland, is a particularly significant diocese because its archbishop has the title “Primate of All Ireland,” the senior Church position on the divided island.

A BBC television documentary last year reported that Brady failed to warn parents their children were being sexually abused by a priest in 1975 after he had been given the information by one of the victims.

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