Is Cardinal Brady coming or going?

The Times’s Ireland correspondent adopts the general line that Cardinal Brady has refused to resign.

But the paper’s commentator on religion says this is subtle way of saying he’s probably going. Which is it?

Ruth Gledhill in full

The clever canon lawyer who heads the Catholic Church in Ireland has passed the most holy ghost of a dilemma to Rome.

Cardinal Seán Brady, the Irish Primate, has not said he will resign over the terrible scandal of clerical child abuse. But nor has he said he is staying.

In his statement, Cardinal Brady said: “To assist me in addressing the vital work of healing, repentance and renewal, including engagement with survivors of abuse, as well as the many other challenges and opportunities which confront the Diocese of Armagh and the Church in Ireland at this time, I have asked Pope Benedict XVI for additional support for my work, at episcopal level.”

This means that in effect the Holy See is being asked to take responsibility for the entire sex abuse crisis.

Rome must now decide whether to give him an assistant bishop, in which case he will stay on as Primate.

The alternative is to appoint a co-adjutor, which will in effect mean he is resigning in all but name.

The word on the inside track is that he has asked privately for the latter, and requested that it should be the brilliant theologian Father Tim Bartlett, currently his adviser.

As a pastor, Cardinal Brady is popular with the laity and priests in Ireland. The appointment of a co-adjutor would allow him to go with dignity. But still he would go, a move that would help victims who understandably want a top head on a plate.

It would also help the Church in Ireland to begin anew on the road to healing, before it is too late.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London