‘Derry needs a new bishop’, says ‘humbled’ interim church leader

Fr. Francis Bradley, appointed new Diocesan Administrator for the diocese of Derry, pictured yesterday at St. Eugene's Cathedral. 2504JM11 (Photo: Jim McCafferty)
Fr. Francis Bradley, appointed new Diocesan Administrator for the diocese of Derry, pictured yesterday at St. Eugene's Cathedral. 2504JM11 (Photo: Jim McCafferty)

The interim leader of the Catholic Church in Derry says the Diocese needs a new bishop.

Father Francis Bradley (43) will lead the Diocese until Pope Francis appoints a new bishop.

The Derry diocese has been without a bishop since Dr Séamus Hegarty retired in November 2011 due to ill health.

A canon lawyer, Fr Bradley takes over as Diocesan Administrator from Monsignor Eamon Martin who was ordained coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh last weekend.

He said it was an honour to be chosen: “I’m struggling to get over the surprise of being chosen by my brother priests,” he said. “I am daunted somewhat by the responsibility that the role brings. I will take things step by step and see how it goes.”

Fr Bradley, from Gortin, has served in parishes both in Tyrone and Derry.

He said he hoped his time in office would be short-lived: “A few centuries ago, the church in Derry got along very well for over a hundred years without a bishop. But we are an episcopal church and we need a bishop.”

“I’m not the bishop of the diocese. I’m simply here to keep the wheels oiled and to be a source of encouragement to people.

“Our faith gives us hope and I think that’s what we need in life today. There are challenges ahead which are of concern to me not only as a priest and a diocesan administrator, but simply as a believing Catholic.

“But I’ve got to be very humble in the fact that I’m not going to be able to change many of these things in what is expected to be a very short time in office.”