Statement by Bishop Leo O’Reilly on the acceptance by Pope Francis of resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady

08 Sep 2014

Pope Francis has today accepted the resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and it is a sad day for me personally and for his many friends in his native Diocese of Kilmore.

I have known and worked closely with Cardinal Seán, firstly as a colleague on the staff of Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan, as a fellow priest of the Diocese of Kilmore and, since my appointment as Bishop of Kilmore in 1998.  On this day of mixed emotion I wish to acknowledge Cardinal Seán’s innate decency and personal kindness, and I will miss his support, wisdom and outstanding leadership of the Bishops’ Conference.

Cardinal Seán is much loved here in the Diocese of Kilmore.  He was born in Laragh parish and educated in Caulfield National School and Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan.  He was ordained priest for the diocese of Kilmore on 22 February 1964.  From 1967 to 1980 he taught languages at Saint Patrick’s College and he served as diocesan secretary for seven years until 1980.  On his return from the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, where he served as Vice Rector and Rector from 1980 to 1993, he was appointed as parish priest of Castletara (Ballyhaise) in Co Cavan.  In 1994 Cardinal Seán was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh by the then Pope, now Saint, John Paul II, and he has served the Bishops’ Conference and his diocese faithfully and patiently since that time.

Cardinal Seán is a humble pastor of deep faith and is gifted with a strong pastoral instinct. These defining qualities have equipped him well over the last twenty years as he led the Catholic Church through our most turbulent period since the Penal Laws.  Cardinal Seán has worked tirelessly to achieve peace in Ireland; he prioritised and oversaw the development of robust child safeguarding guidelines for the Church; in the area of pastoral ministry he led the introduction of the permanent diaconate to Ireland; and at all times he promoted Gospel values and the faith in our contemporary society which is much less receptive to hearing the message of the Good News than in previous times.

Throughout his tenure Cardinal Seán has never forgotten his roots and he has been a great friend to me and to his home parish and diocese.  Whilst this is a sad day, I wish Cardinal Seán good health in his retirement which no doubt will be far from inactive and, as he has always encouraged us to pray more, I ask that you join me to remember Cardinal Seán in your prayers now and always.

On this occasion I wish Cardinal Seán’s successor, Archbishop Eamonn Martin, every blessing and happiness in new role as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.


  • Bishop Leo O’Reilly is Bishop of the Diocese of Kilmore

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678