Cardinal Seán Brady did not offer to resign when allegations of his role in a secret inquiry into abuse first broke two years ago, the Catholic Church has said.
Amid deepening warnings from government circles that the cleric’s position is untenable, the cardinal’s spokesman denied claims that he wanted to quit over his role in investigations into paedophile Brendan Smyth.
The beleaguered cardinal has vowed to remain on despite revelations in a BBC documentary that he was aware at least five children were victims of Smyth and abuse reports were not passed to police and parents were not informed.
“No such offer of resignation was made,” the cardinal’s spokesman said.
Martin Long, head of the Catholic communications office in Ireland, said the cardinal had asked Pope Benedict in May 2010 for Episcopal support.
“As stated on 20 March last ... this request for Episcopal help by Cardinal Brady was put on hold pending the outcome of the Apostolic Visitation, but it is has now been reactivated,” he said.
A series of political leaders have piled pressure on the cardinal to quit, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness urging him to consider his position over the scandal.
Cardinal Brady is due to retire in 2014. Church sources have indicated an assistant would be appointed to support the Cardinal by the end of the year – at least two years after the request was first made. It is expected the coadjutor bishop will ultimately take over in the Armagh Archdiocese when the Cardinal retires aged 75.
An Apostolic Visitation was carried out in Ireland in the wake of the fifth damning inquiry into clerical abuse, where senior church figures reviewed child protection policies in archdioceses, religious institutes and seminaries.