Catholic leader in waiting untainted by abuse
on 19/01/2013 00:00:00
According to Bishop Daly, Mgr Martin is "highly intelligent, knowledgeable, articulate, and an excellent communicator".
He is a hillwalker and his interests also include sacred and classical music, as well as gardening.
Dr Daly has known the "coadjutor archbishop-elect of Armagh" since he was a child growing up in Derry, one of a family of 12 children. He also ordained the young Fr Martin in his native Pennyburn in Derry City in Jun 1987.
As the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown rolls out a series of appointments to the Irish hierarchy, and one trend emerging is the youth of those selected. Like Limerick's bishop-elect, Mgr Eamon Martin was also born in 1961. The two new faces in the hierarchy are the youngest and this may mean their rapport with young people will be easy and positive.
One ecclesiastical source welcomed Mgr Martin's indication that his priority will be engaging a new generation of young people. The bishop-elect of Limerick, Fr Brendan Leahy, told the Irish Examiner that Mgr Martin "will be a great friend of young people".
Now that the worst of the abuse scandals appear to be behind the Church, the fall-off in practice, particularly among young adults, is considered one of the biggest challenges facing the incoming leader of Ireland's Catholics.
An indication of the generally positive reaction to his selection was apparent in the response of young callers to BBC's Radio Ulster's Talkback programme yesterday morning, some of whom told the presenter they were lapsed Catholics who would consider returning to the fold under Mgr Martin's leadership.
In his statement to the press in Armagh, Mgr Martin called for "a mature relationship between Church and society, in both parts of this island" and said people of faith have a vital role to play, though his methodology is will be to invite and not to impose.
It is no surprise that Mgr Martin, who is said to have strong pro-life credentials, called on people of faith to present "a coherent ethic of life" to the world, one which "knits together a conviction about the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the person, with a commitment to solidarity and the family, to the fair distribution of goods and environmentally sustainable development, to justice and peace".
Mgr Martin will act as coadjutor for some time before succeeding the cardinal as archbishop of Armagh.