Irish Cardinal Will Not Resign after Scandals, He Says

By Nic Robertson
September 2, 2010

Months after the revelation that he helped cover up for one of Ireland's most notoriously abusive priests, the country's top Catholic churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady, says he has "moved on" and will not resign.

"I've moved on there, I think, and I got a lot of support in my decision," he told CNN in a rare interview.

Brady was part of an internal church investigation into Father Brendan Smyth in 1975, he confirmed early this year. He did not report his findings to the police and asked two teenagers who gave him evidence to sign oaths of secrecy.

In March, Brady apologized for his role in the Smyth investigation.

"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologize to you with all my heart," he said at his home church, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.

Smyth died in prison in 1997, having been convicted in both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of child abuse.

Deeply Catholic Ireland has been profoundly shaken by a series of government-backed reports that found Catholic clergy committed physical and sexual abuse of children across the country going back at least 70 years.

Church officials systematically hushed up the abuse, the reports found.

Brady said he was not aware of criticism of the church's response to the reports from within the clergy.

Told that there are priests who say the crisis has hurt the morale of the clergy, Brady said: "I haven't met many of those priests, to be honest."

But child abuse by Catholic clergy in Ireland has become such a widespread scandal that Pope Benedict XVI addressed it in an unprecedented pastoral letter to Irish Catholics earlier this year.

The pope is due to visit England and Scotland later this month, which will put him just across the Irish sea from Ireland.

But Brady said he was not disappointed Benedict was not coming.

"The pope has already reached out to us by sending us a pastoral letter," he said, adding he hoped Benedict would come to Ireland in the future.

But one critic said if the Catholic Church had responded differently, a papal visit could improve matters.

"The visit could have helped if the church had admitted that it had acted wrongly in the cover-up. But they are not admitting overall responsibility, just blaming individual priests," said Maeve Lewis of the charity One in Four, which counsels victims of sexual abuse.

In the wake of the scandals, three out of four Irish adults said Brady should resign, a poll for the Irish Times newspaper found in June.

But Brady told CNN he would not.

"I have re-evaluated my position and I have decided to continue as the archbishop of Armagh," he said.

Only one in 10 Irish people think the church has responded adequately to the most recent investigation, summarized in the document known as the Murphy report, the Irish Times poll found.

More than eight out of 10 -- 83 percent -- felt the church had not done enough to respond to the report, which looked into the abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

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