HPBenedictPapalpageaThe courageous decision by Pope Benedict XVI to step down from the See of Peter came as a shock not only to Roman Catholics throughout the world, but to those of other faiths as well. This was mainly because it has been 600 years since a pontiff resigned. The last time it was under duress; this time it is a voluntary act. The 85 year-old Pope celebrated a Mass for Ash Wednesday at the Vatican and held an audience with visitors from different countries. His final public appearance is expected to be in a fortnight’s time on February 27th.

His resignation has been the subject of much comment in the media and has also produced a rash of posts in social media, some of them dispraging but others quite humorous. One of the best ones I noticed was this one showing a picture of a possible (but unlikely!) successor, the Reverend Ian Paisley, who retired from his job as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church in 2008 and from ministry a year ago.IanPThere is a saying “all news is local”. But I thought the Birmingham Post headline for their newspaper stands was stretching it a bit. It was noticed and posted on facebook by a former RTÉ colleague, Eugene McVeigh…….  popeheadline

One comment on it was “Pope Brummidictus!!” whereas my own offering was on the lines of “Always find a local angle! Pope has had enough after visiting Lozells, Nechells, Perry Barr, Acock’s Green & Balti land“.

Pope Benedict steps down at the end of the month. The conclave at the Vatican to elect his successor will start as early as March 15th, according to a papal spokesman. This means whoever is chosen by the Cardinals should be in place by Easter.


Monsignor Eamon Martin (right) Photo: Irish Bishops' Conference

Monsignor Eamon Martin (right):               Photo Irish Bishops’ Conference

More than two years after Cardinal Seán Brady made a request to the Vatican, Pope Benedict has appointed Monsignor Eamon Martin from Derry as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh (an assistant with the right to succeed to the post of Archbishop). I have not met him but he came across in television and radio interviews as a very capable and enthusiastic clergyman. He made clear the Catholic church’s position regarding abortion and the ongoing discussions in the Republic about the “X” case. He also spoke about his upbringing in Derry as one of a family of twelve (six boys and six girls). Monsignor Martin is expected to be ordained as Coadjutor within a few months.

52-year-old Monsignor Martin has been Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Derry since November 2011 and the two former Bishops Seamus Hegarty and Edward Daly have welcomed his appointment. Speaking at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Cardinal Brady welcomed the man who will take over from him in due course. He described Monsignor Martin as a man of great gifts and great generosity who he said would know how to use those talents in the education of people, young and old.

St Columb's College Derry

St Columb’s College Derry

A former pupil of St Columb’s College in Derry, he was ordained in Maynooth in 1987 aged 26. He later became a teacher at St Columb’s and was promoted to President of the College in 2000. He is a director of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, which was established by the Catholic church following revelations about clerical sex abuse in a number of dioceses.