Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of the Irish Catholic Church who resisted calls to resign after covering up for a priest who raped children.
Monsignor Eamon Martin has been named as expected as Brady’s replacement as archbishop of Armagh. Martin has been outspoken about the need for more church accountability on child sex abuse. Brady reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 three weeks ago, and Martin had been tapped to succeed him.
Brady presided over the Irish church for much of the two decades that it has been enmeshed in scandal over sex abuse and cover-up: Brady himself was implicated after a lawsuit in 2010 uncovered records showing he was involved in suppressing information on child rapes in the 1970s.
Irish laywoman Marie Collins, who was raped by a priest when she was 13 and today is a member of an anti-abuse commission created by Pope Francis, described Brady’s resignation now as “meaningless.”
“If Cardinal Brady had resigned in 2010, when his failures on Brendan Smyth became known, it might have meant something to survivors,” Collins said.
Her reference was to a former Irish priest accused of assaulting more than 100 minors during a 40-year span in Ireland and the United States. In 2010, Brady acknowledged he had been part of a church investigation of Smyth in 1975 in which two of the priest’s teenage victims were required to sign oaths of silence.
Critics saw those pledges as a cover-up and demanded Brady’s resignation, but he insisted that at the time he was only a junior clergyman and didn’t have the authority to report Smyth to the police.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.