Editor's Viewpoint: Is Sean Brady the Right Man for Ireland's Catholics?

Belfast Telegraph
May 3, 2012

While the BBC has produced fresh evidence against Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, in relation to the sex abuse carried out by notorious priest, Fr Brendan Smyth, the fundamental problem for the Primate is unchanged.

He may argue that he did nothing wrong and that his involvement in the interviewing of two victims of the priest were minimal and that he now regrets the culture of silence within the Church at that time. Yet many will feel that is a weak defence.

The Cardinal - who was then simply a priest - was given the names of children at risk from Fr Smyth and while he passed those on to superiors in the Church, neither the police nor the parents were informed.

Cardinal Brady may feel that it was not his role at that time to alert either, yet most right-minded people will regard it as shameful that a Christian organisation should continue to leave some of its most vulnerable flock - children - at risk from a paedophile.

They will also wonder how, as Cardinal Brady rose up the ranks of the Church, he did not question anyone about what had happened to the Fr Smyth case which he had been involved in.

Surely he was shocked by the allegations which he had heard from two boys all those years before? It can be argued that his sins were those of omission - that he accepted the secretive culture of the Church in those days even when aware of claims of very serious crimes.

The fact still remains - not that he actively did something wrong - but that he was part of a cover-up, even inactively, by the Catholic Church, more intent, as it has acknowledged, in saving its own face than in facing up to its responsibilities.

The question that more and more people are now posing is a serious one for him - is he a fit person to lead the Church in Ireland? There are as many who will say, no, as there will be to leap to his defence as he continues to defy calls for his resignation.


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