Brady 'betrayed' by officials over abuse

Published Wednesday, 02 May 2012
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Cardinal Seán Brady has said he feels "betrayed" by the Church officials who had the authority to stop paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

Brady 'betrayed' by officials over abuse
Cardinal Seán Brady pictured in Armagh on Wednesday. (© Pacemaker)

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has claimed that officials failed to act on evidence he gave them about clerical child abuse - but he accepts that he "was part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society, and the Church, which thankfully is now a thing of the past".

Cardinal Brady released a statement on Wednesday following new claims that he failed to act on allegations of abuse made against Fr Brendan Smyth.

He said suggestions that he led the 1975 Church inquiry were "seriously misleading and untrue" and that he was asked by Bishop Francis McKiernan of the Diocese of Kilmore to assist senior officials "on a one-off basis only".

Cardinal Brady added that he acted only as a "note-taker" during the inquiry.

I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him.

Cardinal Seán Brady

Amnesty International has since called for the PSNI to investigate whether Church officials and others failed to report alleged criminal offences against children in Northern Ireland to the relevant authorities.

"The protection of the rights of children is one of the most precious responsibilities carried by the State," Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said.

"There can be no hiding place for child abusers, nor for those who have colluded, covered up or facilitated the abuse of children, whether in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

"The State authorities in Northern Ireland must now live up to their responsibilities to show that no individual and no institution is above the law."

According to Cardinal Brady, the only people in the Church with the authority to stop Brendan Smyth having contact with children were his Abbot in Kilnacrott and his Religious Superiors in the Norbertine Order.

He added: "In 1975, no State or Church guidelines existed in the Republic of Ireland to assist those responding to an allegation of abuse against a minor.

"No training was given to priests, teachers, police officers or others who worked regularly with children about how to respond appropriately should such allegations be made."

Brendan Boland from Co Louth, who was abused as a 14-year-old boy by Smyth, says information he gave to a church inquiry team including Cardinal Brady was not passed on to victims' parents or police.

The claims were heard in a BBC This World documentary on Tuesday, centred on a secret canonical investigation which took place in 1975.

It is my view that the This World programme has set out to deliberately exaggerate and misrepresent my role in these events.

Cardinal Seán Brady

The programme revealed that information given to Cardinal Brady, including the names and addresses of some children who were suspected of being abused, was not acted upon and that two victims continued to be abused.

"There was a boy from Belfast, I gave his name and address," Mr Boland told the documentary, compiled by Darragh MacIntyre.

"A girl from Belfast, I gave her name and address. A girl from Cavan, I gave her name and address. Another boy from Cavan, I gave his name and address. And there was another boy who was his friend."

The disclosures have led to calls for Cardinal Brady to resign - but he has said he will be continuing in his role.

"I fully support new procedures which include the obligation to report such allegations promptly to the civil authorities," Cardinal Brady said in his statement.

"I have worked with others in the Church to put these new procedures in place and I look forward to continuing that vital work in the years ahead."

The Vatican's chief investigator Monsignor Charles J Scicluna has also defended the senior cleric's role and insists he does not have a case to answer.

"His duty, and I think that what I would expect of a notary or an interviewer's duty, is to pass the information to the people who are in authority," he said.

"The people who are in authority would have the duty, not only to put the people away from danger - and so, if they are minors, to inform their parents - but also to make sure that the priest who is offending doesn't offend and that he is put under supervision.

"Father Brady referred all this information to the people who had authority and a duty to act."

First Minister Peter Robinson said the reports are "deeply disturbing", but that Cardinal Brady's position is an ecumenical matter.

The most recent reports about child abuse within the Catholic Church are deeply disturbing. No one could fail to be moved as victims tell of the traumatic abuse they suffered.

First Minister Peter Robinson

"Today my thoughts are with the many victims who have never received justice and who still live with the mental and physical scars," Mr Robinson said.

"Whilst many are understandably asking serious questions about the Catholic Church leadership, the position of Cardinal Brady is a matter which the Catholic Church hierarchy and its individual members should determine."

Serial sex abuser Smyth was later revealed to be responsible for the rape and assault of hundreds of children in Ireland, Britain and America as the Catholic Church covered up his crimes.

His case rocked the church and the Irish Government - which collapsed in 1994 over delays in granting his extradition to Northern Ireland to face sex abuse charges.

Father Smyth was later jailed and died, aged 70, in August 1997 - one month into his 12-year prison sentence.

Last year, Cardinal Brady confirmed he was present at the 1975 meeting where two teenagers abused by Fr Smyth were asked to take a vow of silence.

He apologised for failing to alert the authorities about the serial abuser.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
48 Comments
Unique_Idea in Coleraine wrote (902 days ago):
A unique idea that the media have failed to report although most people with an IQ in triple figures has considered it. Why didn't the parents report this to the police? Indeed any responsible adult that the boy might have confided in would have been required to report this. Also if not why haven't they been vilified? Also if there is a police investigation, then will this involve going back 40 years and beyond to all adults who did not report abuse?
Ryan in Newry wrote (903 days ago):
@vee - what a ridiculous comment. If we all followed the opinion of "let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, then we wouldn't have a justice system as everyone has sinned. You want us to say nothing about the covering up of men having sex with young boys because we are not perfect ourselves. Hang your head in shame for such thoughtless comments. Could others please think before commenting. I think there is a blessing in all this, the Catholic hierarchy is gobbling itself up and eventually it will lose it's grip on our society.
sonia in Belfast wrote (903 days ago):
Sure there must be a case for prosecution around with-holding information
lorna in limavady wrote (903 days ago):
it is hard to imagine what was going through his brain when a child of fourteen was telling him of the abuse. The questions they asked that child and then to keep a crime quiet and pass the priest along to another child. Who needs to consult the officials when they had evidence of abuse from more than one child victim.If this was their training for the Priesthoodis. it should be a calling to serve God and the body of Jesus Christ.Cardinal Brady failed to serve God. The words of Jesus should hunt him. "Better a milstone tied around their necks and cast into the midst to the sea. then to cause one of my little one to fall". Is the same Cardinal not saying to those who seek abortions "Jesus loves your little child".
Andy in Belfast wrote (903 days ago):
Vee in Belfast - you can keep saying "let he who has NOT SINNED cast the first stone! as much as you want, but to try and justify what Brady did is unjustifiable. I may not be perfect however I sure as hell wouldnt have been able to live with myself if I covered up child abuse. Nothing should come before protecting children not even the church!
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