The head of Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady has announced that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following criticism of his handling of a clerical sex abuse investigation in the county.
"Last month I offered my resignation to Pope Francis in accordance with the requirement of canon law," Brady said in a statement.
AdvertisementUnder current Vatican practice, bishops tender their resignation at 75, then the pope decides when it should take effect.
In recent years, Brady became embroiled in accusations that he mishandled child abuse allegations during an investigation into notorious paedophile Father Brendan Smyth.
In 1975, as a young priest and canon lawyer investigating the actions of Smyth, Brady did not report the allegations of abuse to the police. Smyth continued to abuse children until his arrest and conviction in the 1990s.
In 2012, Brady issued a public apology to the victims but refused to step down.
During a private meeting with Pope Francis last month, clerical abuse victim Marie Kane asked for Brady to be removed as head of the Irish Church due to his handling of the 1975 inquiry.
On Friday, she said she was disappointed Brady had not stepped down earlier.
"He should have done this a long time ago. He shouldn't be just doing it now because of his 75th birthday," she told RTE state radio.
Brady became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in 1996 and has led the Irish Church at a time when a series of damning reports and revelations revealed the extent of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland.
He is credited with playing a key role behind the scenes in the Northern Ireland peace process.
In 2006, Brady became the first Catholic primate to meet with firebrand Protestant leader Ian Paisley, in groundbreaking talks.
Pope Benedict XVI elevated Brady to the College of Cardinals the following year.
In January 2013, pope Benedict appointed Eamon Martin, 52, to succeed Brady as Archbishop of Armagh whenever he steps down.
Brady said Archbishop Martin will take up the role "as soon as Pope Francis accepts my resignation".
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