Cardinal Claims BBC Exaggerated His Role in Inquiry into Sex Abuse

By Gerry Moriarty, Deaglan De Breadun And Patsy Mcgarry
Irish Times
May 3, 2012

Cardinal Sean Brady faces reporters at Armagh yesterday in response to a BBC programme which found that he had names and addresses of those being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth but did not pass these on to the Garda or parents.Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

CARDINAL SEAN Brady has criticised elements of a BBC documentary about clerical child sex abuse and complained that it “deliberately exaggerated” his role as a member of a 1975 church inquiry team charged with establishing the accuracy of abuse allegations.

The Catholic primate said he would not be standing down over the issue but acknowledged: “I was part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society, and the church, which thankfully is now a thing of the past.”

Asked about the controversy, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was a personal matter for Cardinal Brady to “reflect on the outcome of the programme”.

Of the revelations, he said: “That’s why we published the legislation for child guidelines to be put in law. That’s why we make preparations for a referendum in respect of the protection of rights of children.

“That’s why it is also important, as I have said on many occasions in the past, that every organisation dealing with children, including religious organisations, play their full part in co-operating with government to set out – a system and a structure whereby this horrendous carry-on can never happen again.”

Mr Kenny was responding to the BBC This World documentary, The Shame of the Catholic Church, which disclosed how the church inquiry involving the then Fr John Brady was given the names and addresses of children who were abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth – but that this information was never passed on to the parents of the children or to the Garda.

Brendan Boland, a then 14-year-old boy from Co Louth, told the inquiry how he and others were abused by Smyth. The programme disclosed that Smyth continued to abuse two of the boys, one from Belfast and one from Cavan, after the inquiry.

Furthermore, the sister of the Belfast boy and his four first cousins were sexually abused by Smyth over several subsequent years.

Cardinal Brady, in an interview with The Irish Times yesterday, said that as a member of the three-member inquiry team he established the veracity of Brendan Boland’s allegations and that that information was properly passed on to the bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan, and in turn handed over to the Rev Kevin Smith, former abbot of the Norbertine order, of which Smyth was a member.

Smyth’s superiors in the order bore “primary responsibility” for the failure to deal with the serial child sex abuser, he said.

Cardinal Brady claimed the BBC programme “has set out to deliberately exaggerate and misrepresent my role in these events”. It misrepresented his role by suggesting he was one of the investigators of the abuse when as a junior priest in 1975 he was the “stenographer of the meeting”.

He also claimed he was quoted out of context and that a statement made to the BBC by senior Vatican investigator Msgr Charles Scicluna exonerating him of culpability was not carried on the programme. The BBC said it stood by the programme and that it was accurate and impartial.

Asked should he not have contacted the parents of the abused children, Cardinal Brady said: “I thought that my function finished when I completed my task of being secretary to the commission, and it was handed over then to the Norbertines. I suppose I was, maybe, overawed or over-deferential of the confidentiality of these kind of procedures.”

Yesterday, Msgr Scicluna said he was “sure” Cardinal Brady was fit to continue to lead the Irish Catholic Church, adding that he had “fulfilled his duty well” in the 1975 inquiry.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said he was “shocked” by the failure to stop Smyth’s abusing.

Asked should Cardinal Brady resign, Mr Rabbitte replied: “I don’t want to be personal about the cardinal – I don’t know the detail.”

However, he said: “This notion of ‘I did my bit’ and ‘it was up to those higher up the chain to take decisions’ is not an adequate explanation.”

Amnesty in Northern Ireland called on the PSNI to investigate “the potential cover-up of criminal acts of child abuse”. The PSNI said it would study the programme but would make no further comment at this stage. The Garda had no comment








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