Msgr Eamon Martin said yesterday he felt like one of the apostles in that he had to be courageous and “put out into the deep” in taking on his new role as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, a post he accepted with “nervousness and trepidation”.
Msgr Martin (52), a native of Derry
city who is administrator of the Derry diocese, was yesterday appointed
coadjutor archbishop by Pope Benedict.
Under Catholic canon law this
grants him the right to be the next Catholic primate and Archbishop of
Armagh when Cardinal Seán Brady retires.
Brady, who announced the appointment at the entrance of St Patrick’s
Cathedral in Armagh yesterday morning, reaches the 75-year retirement
age in August of next year.
One senior Catholic source said that
Msgr Martin was likely to be ordained as coadjutor archbishop by Easter
but that it could be a two-year run-in and possibly longer – if Cardinal
Brady gets an extension to his position – before he is made Archbishop
Msgr Martin, who comes from a family of six boys and
six girls, said he was humbled and honoured to be appointed, while a
little fearful, yet enthusiastic.
“I feel like the apostles in
chapter five of Luke’s Gospel, being called by Our Lord to be
courageous, to ‘put out into the deep’.”
Reading his opening
address from an iPad, and assuredly taking questions from journalists,
Msgr Martin spoke on issues such as clerical child abuse, abortion, the
street disorder in Northern Ireland and the place of the Catholic Church
Learning from past
the greatest challenges facing our church is to acknowledge, live with,
and learn from the past, including the terrible trauma caused by abuse. I
think today of all those who have been abused by clergy, and the hurt
and betrayal they have experienced,” said Msgr Martin, who worked
alongside Ian Elliott on the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
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.
It saddens me because I love God and I love the church that I serve,” he
On abortion he supported the Irish Catholic bishops’ position.
said he would be saying a special Mass in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, today
in support of the Unite for Life vigil in Dublin, and that in December
he was one of the senior clerics who attended the Vigil for Life outside
Msgr Martin said, “We believe there isn’t a need to
legislate on this issue, that the protections for the equal right to
life of the mother and the unborn child are already there, and that that
could be clarified by a form of guidelines and made clearer so that
none of our doctors and none of our nurses feel that they do not know or
that they will not be secure in doing what they believe is the best
thing to protect life.”
Msgr Martin said the work of Vatican II
“remains our work today, and its documents provide our compass as we
strive to bring renewal to every area of church life.
“There is a
need for a mature relationship between church and society, in both parts
of this island, and people of faith have a vital role to play,” he
said “the continued threats from those who appear not to want lasting
peace, and the tensions on our streets in recent days, remind us how
important it is to work more closely together for true and lasting
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, in welcoming his appointment, described him as a “progressive thinker”.
for his reaction, Msgr Martin said, “I am not sure if I would describe
myself as a progressive thinker but I do like to think.”
of Pennyburn in Derry and a second-level student in St Columb’s College,
Derry – of which he was later president – his third-level studies were
in Maynooth, Queen’s University, Belfast, Cambridge and the Institute of
Education in London.