Pope appoints successor to liberal Dublin archbishop Martin

© Reuters. Pope Francis and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attend the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY/DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s most liberal Roman Catholic prelate, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, is to step aside having reached the normal retirement age for bishops of 75, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

Martin, who formally offered his resignation on his 75th birthday in April, will be replaced by Bishop Dermot Pius Farrell, the Vatican said in a statement.

Archbishop of Dublin since 2004, Martin has been critical of the Church’s handling of sexual abuse scandals and told the Irish Times last year that the Church was “imprisoned in its past” and needed renewal.

Years of scandals have shattered the credibility of the Church, which until four decades ago had dominated Irish society. In the last five years of Martin’s term, Irish voters approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the Church’s wishes.

“It’s not enough simply to say sorry. Structures that permit or facilitate abuse must be broken down and broken down forever,” Martin told a Mass days before the 2018 visit of Pope Francis.

Martin recently named a 2011 service of repentance in which he washed the feet of abuse victims at Dublin’s Procathedral as one of his strongest memories.

The 66-year-old Farrell, currently the bishop of Ossory, praised Martin for taking “very difficult and courageous decisions” during his time as archbishop. In an interview with RTE Radio, he described his task as “daunting”.

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Farrell has spent almost all his clerical career in Ireland, apart from several years in Rome, where he received a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Before becoming archbishop of Dublin, Martin had served as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and as secretary of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace.

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