Monsignor Martin prepares for episcopal ordination

Monsignor Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh. (1904PG100)

Monsignor Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh. (1904PG100)

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The Derry priest set to be the next leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland last night spoke of his “nervousness, excitement and great sense of responsibility” as he made last minute arrangements for his episcopal ordination on Sunday.

The Derry priest set to be the next leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland last night spoke of his “nervousness, excitement and great sense of responsibility” as he made last minute arrangements for his episcopal ordination on Sunday.

Monsignor Eamon Martin, Derry’s Diocesan Administrator for the past year-and-a-half, will be ordained Coadjutor (Assistant) Archbishop of Armagh at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.

The chief celebrant for the ordination Mass will be Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland - and the man who Monsignor Martin is set to succeed as the leader of Ireland’s Catholics.

In his new role, Mgr Martin will assist Cardinal Brady and will succeed him as Archbishop on his retirement.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, Mgr. Martin said that, while he was sad to be leaving his home town, family and friends, he was relishing his new challenge.

“It’s like starting all over again,” he said. “I’ve a whole new family of people - priests and parishioners - to get to know. I’m on a new journey.”

Leaving Derry, he says, is, obviously, tinged with sadness but, as he himself acknowledges, “it’s not as if I’m heading to the other side of the world. After all, it’s only down the road.”

In a wide-ranging interview in today’s ‘Journal’, Mgr. Martin discusses the recent appointment of a new Pope, the challenges facing the Catholic Church - both in Ireland and globally - as well as touching on contentious issues such as clerical abuse and celibacy.

A Papal visit to Northern Ireland is, he says, “something I’d love to see - and soon.”

“I’ve always felt that Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979 was somewhat incomplete because he never came North of the border due to the ‘Troubles’.

“I would certainly support any call by the Irish bishops for Pope Francis to come to Ireland.”

Turning to the issue of clerical abuse, Mgr. Martin pledged to do everything he could, with the help of other people, to ensure that the welfare of children and young people was paramount and that the “terrible things” that happened in the past didn’t recur again.

On celibacy and married priests, Mgr. Martin said that, from a personal point of view, celibacy has been “challenging but also life-giving”.

“Celibacy is, in my opinion, something that is very, very valuable and something I would like to see kept in the church into the future.”

See pages 34-35 of today’s Derry Journal for more on this interview, part of a special feature running on pages 34 - 39.