Archbishop Martin next in line if cardinal steps down
ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin would be the favourite to become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland if Cardinal Sean Brady resigns over the Fr Brendan Smyth scandal.
A cross-border move from Dublin to Armagh would make Archbishop Martin the official leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, elevating him from his current status as its number two.
By tradition, the Archbishop of Armagh presides as chairman of the Irish Bishops Conference. Dr Martin's transfer would not confer an automatic red hat on the former Vatican diplomat. But he would be well-placed to be elevated to the College of Cardinals when Pope Benedict announces new appointments late this year.
But church sources last night indicated Dr Martin would be kept in Dublin which is a bigger and more influential diocese than the primatial See of Armagh, giving the incumbent archbishop regular access to the Government.
Another "clean pair of hands" would be the recently appointed Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Noel Treanor.
The Monaghan-born but Belfast-based Bishop Treanor has emerged as a rising star in a lacklustre hierarchy which will see nine bishops being retired within the next year.
Bishop Treanor, who acquired international experience through his long stint in Brussels monitoring EU legislation for European bishops, was prominent in the passage of the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Bishop Treanor also made national news headlines after the publication in May 2009 of the Ryan report into child abuse for proposing the need for a comprehensive inter-disciplinary study of the complex nature of paedophilia in all sectors of society, and not just the church.
A third candidate would be the Newry-based Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, a canon lawyer.