Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brady: Red Hat's For the Bunch

The Ring Mass -- or Day Two of what one denizen dubbed "Guido Marini Presents: Restoration" -- has wrapped, and the Pope is now lunching with all the cardinals present for the weekend.

Recap, etc. to come... but in the meantime, among yesterday's standout remarks were the post-consistory reflections of Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh.

Before an afternoon reception at the Irish College, the newly-elevated primate of All Ireland spoke to the press in attendance (fulltext; snipped below):
I would like to take the opportunity today to pay tribute to the priests and religious of Ireland, including those who work abroad.

These have been difficult, at times traumatic years for the Church in Ireland. Yet in the midst of some of these challenges, not least the appalling and criminal behaviour of some of their colleagues, the overwhelming majority of priests and religious have continued to serve their people with quiet devotion and outstanding generosity.

Today I believe, is in some way about them. It is about the quiet acts of kindness, the supportive, prayerful presence in times of tragedy and joy, the effort to build community and bring dignity, comfort and hope those in need. These are the things which have been the hallmark of generations of Irish priests and religious at home and across the world. It is a legacy I believe Ireland can be proud of. These are her sons and daughters and their generosity and commitment is celebrated in many parts of the world.

Being created a Cardinal today is about representing the bonds of affection and unity between the Office of Peter and the Irish Church. So I have no hesitation in saying to the priests and religious of Ireland today: “Take heart! Today is recognition of your service, of your efforts and your generosity. Today the Successor of Peter has not so much honoured me as honoured the people of Ireland and in a special way her priests and religious.”

I also ask the people of Ireland to give fresh heart to their priests and religious. The years ahead will bring a new emphasis on the role of the lay faithful. This is welcome. It is also appropriate and necessary. But you only have to visit the parishes, the youth groups, the schools and the community projects around the country to know the special affection and regard so many people have for their faithful, generous and hard working priests and religious. They have a unique and irreplaceable role in our society. I ask people to continue to give them their support, to encourage many young people to follow their example and to pray that Ireland will always recognise in justice and gratitude the valued role of her faithful priests and religious.

Two weeks ago Father Peter McVerry addressed the priests of the diocese of Armagh that I am so privileged to serve. He told us that the passion of God is compassion, especially for the poor and the vulnerable of our world. My hope is that through God’s grace, Ireland will continue to be known as a country which values and defends the irreplaceable role of faith, a faith which is compassionate and has at its heart a concern for the vulnerable and the poor.

My hope is that we will see our tradition as a country of faith as an asset, something which motivates and inspires our compassion for the world. That out of our new diversity and the particular lessons of our history, we will bring to the great issues of our day the insights and values which flow from faith in a God who has created and loves the world. I pray for a deep renewal of that faith. I pray that many Irish people will rediscover the joy which has brought such fulfilment to my own life, the joy of following Jesus Christ.

Respect for our neighbour, defence of the inherent dignity of the human person, generosity in service of others, concern for those most in need, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, these are the things which have made Ireland the generous and peace-making country that it is. These are the things which flow from faith.

Finally, for my own part, as I thank his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the great privilege he has bestowed on me today, and through me on the whole Irish Church, I take to myself this prayer of St. Patrick:
‘But what can I say or what can I promise to my Lord, as I can do nothing that He has not given me? May He search my heart and my deepest feelings…. may God never permit it to happen to me that I should lose His people which He purchased in the utmost parts of the world. I pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign that I be a faithful witness to Him to the end of my life for my God.’
In the run-up to the consistory, Brady gave an extended interview to Vatican Radio, as did the new cardinal whose surname is Pirate... in Gaelic, of course.

PHOTO: AP/Andrew Medichini