“The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has granted my request for retirement as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh on the grounds of my ill health.  I am very grateful to Pope Benedict for doing so especially at this momentous time in his own life and ministry.

“My decision to retire as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh is based on medical advice which I have been receiving since last August.  It is with great sadness that I come to today’s decision: having grown up locally in the diocese – born in the parish of Lordship & Ballymascanlon in 1941 – and as priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Armagh, I have received great warmth and affection throughout my ministry from the people of the diocese.  I thank them for their support in my 21 years as Auxiliary Bishop.

“At this time I wish to pay tribute to Cardinal Seán Brady and to the priests of the Archdiocese of Armagh.  Cardinal Brady has been a model episcopal colleague; his humanity, deep faith and natural humility bear witness to the most fundamental of Gospel values.

“Whilst the pastoral work and responsibilities of being bishop and priest in twenty-first century Ireland are both challenging and complex, it is nonetheless a deeply rewarding vocation for anyone called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  I also take this opportunity to pray God’s strength and guidance for all priests and members of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, in their ministries of proclaiming God’s Kingdom.

“I look forward to continuing my pastoral work in collaboration and with the support of the bishops, priests and lay people of the Archdiocese.  As I take on a different role I will continue, God willing, to promote and foster the Gospel message in its fullness.  I ask that you remember me in your prayers today and in the future.”

26 February 2013