Cardinal Brady's Duty in Smyth Scandal

Irish Independent
May 3, 2012

Almost two decades after playing a major role in the collapse of the 1993-4 Fianna Fail/Labour coalition, the crimes of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth continue to cast a long shadow over Irish life.

Now, not for the first time, Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of Ireland's Catholics, finds himself forced to explain his role in the Church's investigation into Fr Smyth's crimes.

In 1975, the then Fr Sean Brady was called upon to assist in the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse made by several children against Fr Smyth. His role in the investigation was a relatively junior one. He first acted as a notetaker in the interview of one of Fr Smyth's victims and subsequently interviewed a second child who had been identified as a victim of Fr Smyth in the first interview.

"I had no further involvement in the Inquiry process once I handed over the evidence taken. I trusted that those with the authority to act in relation to Brendan Smyth would treat the evidence seriously and respond accordingly. I had no such authority to act and even by today's guidance from the State I was not the person who had the role of bringing the allegations to the attention of the civil authorities," Cardinal Brady said in a statement issued yesterday following the BBC This World programme broadcast on Tuesday night, which revisited his role in the 1975 Church investigation into Fr Smyth.

All true. Unfortunately for Cardinal Brady, while he may have performed his duties as expected of him by the Church in 1975, when it comes to clerical child sex abuse, all has changed, changed utterly since the mid-1970s. As the full extent of the abuse of children by priests and religious has emerged, along with the pathetically inadequate response of the Church authorities to the scandal, it is no longer enough for Cardinal Brady to claim that he was merely doing his duty.

While the then Fr Brady may have been no more than a relatively small cog in the Church machine, the fact remains that the Church, by failing to alert the civil authorities to Fr Smyth's crimes, left him free to continue abusing children for at least another decade-and-a-half.

Although there is undoubtedly an element of retrospection involved in the criticism of Cardinal Brady's role in the investigation, he can no longer assert, as he did in yesterday's statement, that it was sufficient for him to merely pass the paperwork on to his superiors and banish the episode from his mind.

Following the latest airing of his role in the 1975 investigation, Cardinal Brady has once again reiterated his determination not to resign.

Unfortunately this ensures that the controversy surrounding his leadership of the Irish Catholic Church will continue unabated.








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