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The Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Armagh as on Saturday he reaches the episcopal retirement age of 75.
Under canon law every bishop is required to offer his resignation to the Pope when they reach that age.
According his spokesman the leader of the Irish Church submitted his letter to the Holy See over the course of the past month.
It is now clear that Pope Francis will determine when Cardinal Brady’s retirement will take effect.
Last year Archbishop Eamon Martin was consecrated coadjutor archbishop, meaning that he will succeed Cardinal Brady.
The spokesman said: “When Pope Francis accepts the retirement, Coadjutor Archbishop Eamon Martin will become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.”
In a statement on Friday, Cardinal Brady said: "I look forward to the day when my resignation will be accepted and when Archbishop Eamon will take over as Archbishop, a position for which, I believe, he is excellently prepared."
The cardinal has come under pressure to resign due to his role in investigating a clerical sexual-abuse case.
Two Irish abuse survivors who met the Pope on 7 July, Marie Kane and Mark Vincent Healy, demanded that Cardinal Brady retire no later than the day he turns 75.
They are highly critical of his role in a 1975 canonical trial that came to light in 2010 which investigated the abuse of a teenager Brendan Boland by the late Fr Brendan Smyth.
The matter resurfaced in 2012 when a BBC Northern Ireland documentary revealed that the then Fr Brady had not reported Smyth’s abuse of Boland and other children to the civil authorities.
In July, Boland published in his book Sworn to Silence transcripts signed by Fr Brady from the 1975 canonical process. Cardinal Brady has always insisted he was simply a note-taker during the process.