Friday 19 January 2018

Unassuming man uneasy in the limelight

John Cooney

ROME belonged to the Irish on November 2007 when Sean Brady, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was elevated in St Peter's Square by Pope Benedict XVI to the rank of a Prince of the Church.

Afterwards, the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described him as "the most humble priest ever to become a cardinal".

Having been passed over for a Red Hat in 2001, Cardinal Brady, at 68, was at last being acclaimed as the leader of the Irish Church. Praise was heaped on the unassuming cardinal, who prefers to shun the limelight and is an uneasy media performer. His role in the Peace Process in the North was cited as an instance of his quiet backroom diplomacy.

In an Irish Independent interview, he recalled first setting foot in Rome exactly 37 years earlier when, with a BA in Ancient Classics from Maynooth already in his soutane, he pursued further studies in theology leading to his ordination in 1964.

The intellectual youth from Drumcalpin, near Laragh, Co Cavan, emerged from St John Lateran's University in 1967 with a doctorate in canon law.

Cardinal Brady has been to the fore handling the tumultuous fallout from the clerical child abuse scandals and producing improved child protection measures.

Ironically, we now know when he was celebrating his Red Hat in November 2007, he knew that the timebomb of the legal process against him in connection with the Fr Brendan Smyth affair was already ticking.

Irish Independent

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