Cardinal recovering at home after service collapse

All-Ireland Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady was recovering at home today after falling ill at a service.

The Archbishop of Armagh was taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital when he began feeling weak at a Confirmation ceremony in the parish church of Kildress, Co Tyrone, last night.

He was discharged by doctors after a medical assessment and is now resting at home in Armagh.

"I wish to thank the staff for their kindness and care during my time at the hospital," the 70-year-old said.

"I am also grateful for the prayerful support and good wishes that I have received."

Cardinal Brady has been under intense pressure in the last month after admitting holding secret interviews with two young victims of one of the Church's most heinous sex abusers, the late Brendan Smyth, in the 1970s.

Father Patrick Hughes, parish priest of Kildress, said the Cardinal started feeling weak towards the end of the Confirmation service, shortly before 6pm last night.

Up to six members of the congregation came to his aid as he began feeling unwell, including a number of nurses.

Fr Hughes, who had to finish the Mass, said the Cardinal was placed on the ground "but he remained conscious at all times".

The primate has faced down calls for his resignation over the disclosures that he failed to report complaints of abuse made against Smyth to gardai.

He has said he will address the issue on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.

Cardinal Brady confirmed he met two alleged victims in 1975 and passed the information on to superiors, who removed Smyth from some priestly duties.

But Smyth continued to rape and molest young boys and girls until he was brought to justice in the mid-1990s.

His case was one of the first paedophile priest scandals to rock the Catholic Church in Ireland and also led to the collapse of the Irish Government's Fianna Fail/Labour coalition in 1994.

He was later jailed for sex attacks on about 90 children in the north and south of Ireland over a 40-year period and died in prison.

Cardinal Brady has apologised for his role in the handling of sex abuse cases.

The primate is also in a legal battle with a man who claims he was abused by Smyth and faces calls to withdraw his defence.