THE administrator of the Roman Catholic diocese of Derry has been appointed assistant bishop to the archdiocese of Armagh, working under Cardinal Sean Brady.
Monsignor Eamon Martin, a Londonderry man from a working class background, is in line as the cardinal’s successor.
Cardinal Brady, the 73-year-old church primate, has said he will not resign despite criticism about his handling of clerical abuse claims.
Monsignor Martin said the church must learn from the “terrible trauma” of abuse.
“I think of all those who have been abused by clergy, and the hurt and betrayal they have experienced,” he said.
“They have been left with a lifelong suffering. I am saddened that many good Catholics were let down so badly over the issue of abuse and that some have even stopped practising their faith. As a church, we must continue in efforts to bring healing to victims and ensure that young people are always protected, respected and nurtured.”
Cardinal Brady said in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh yesterday: “I am delighted the man chosen is Monsignor Eamon Martin and I congratulate him most sincerely. I welcome him to the city and the diocese of Patrick.”
Earlier, the Irish Catholic newspaper described the appointment as an “exit strategy” for Cardinal Brady.
The paper’s editor, Michael Kelly, told the BBC the identity of the coadjutor bishop had been a well-guarded secret.
“This is an exit strategy for Cardinal Brady and probably something where this new shadow bishop will take over within the next three or four months,” he said.
“It’s been very clear that the cardinal’s position has been, to say the least, difficult in the church and the Vatican has been engaged in a search for his successor.
“It seems now they have eventually found a successor who will shadow the cardinal, allowing the cardinal, at least on paper, or at least publicly, to go at a time of his own choosing.”
Church of Ireland Primate the Rev Dr Richard Clarke congratulated Monsignor Martin: “I welcome him, as another newcomer to the city of Armagh, and wish him God’s richest blessing in the ministry to which he has now been called. Monsignor Martin is a man of great energy, friendliness and vision, and I look forward to working with him.”
The appointment was also welcomed by Presbyterian Moderator the Rev Dr Roy Patton and Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe the Rev Ken Good. Dr Patton said he looked forward to meeting Monsignor Martin.