Alex Kane: Brady Has Failed in Christian Duty

News Letter
May 7, 2012

THIS is what I wrote in this column on March 22, 2010: "It has been an awfully bad week for the Catholic Church: which is really saying something when you consider its centuries' long history of brutality, bullying, intimidation, suppression, corruption, war-mongering and persecution.

"I know one should always avoid the temptation to judge any organisation or religion by the actions of a few individuals, but what do you do when hundreds (maybe thousands) of individuals have betrayed their positions of trust and responsibility and when there is very clear evidence that their activities have been covered-up by their superiors?

"And what do you do when it is equally clear that the needs of the Catholic Church outweigh the hurt of the abuse victims?

"This isn't just about a 'few rotten apples' in the bottom of the barrel, either. This is a scandal which embraces every level of the Catholic Church from the Pope himself to priests in the backs of cars and in the laundry rooms of orphanages. It's about a culture of secrecy. It's about the systematic abuse of the vulnerable.

"It's about 'buying off' victims and then relocating the perpetrators to fresh fields and new victims. It's about threatening both the abused and their families with excommunication and 'God's wrath' if they talk to the police or go public in any other way.

"I have absolutely no idea of how or why Cardinal Brady's conscience allows him to remain in his post. Had he been the chief executive of any other organisation, or a senior political figure, he wouldn't even have had (let alone expected) the opportunity to spend a few weeks considering his position.

"He would have been drummed out of office and driven to a police station. The very fact that he says that he needs a few weeks of prayerful contemplation says it all. If he doesn't already know that he has done wrong, then no amount of time will change his mind.

"Pope Benedict and Cardinal Brady ought to be ashamed of themselves; and of a papal machinery which has, for so long, willingly and skilfully protected individual rapists and organised sex rings. If truth be known, that same machinery has also covered-up all sorts of other political, moral, financial and personal corruption. When protecting the Pope and the Catholic Church has become more important than promoting Christianity, it is no surprise that the standing and authority of both has been irredeemably tarnished."

Twenty-six months later I wouldn't change one word of that commentary. Cardinal Brady has had 112 weeks for 'prayerful contemplation' and yet he hangs on, still deploying Jesuitical sleight-of-tongue to justify his decision to put protocol before the needs of abused and vulnerable children.

He says that in "passing on" the notes to his Church superiors he was doing what was required. Really? It looks to me that all he actually did at the time was pass by on the other side, leaving at least one boy traumatised for life.

He failed in his Christian duty. He failed as a human, too. He allowed what should have been a natural compassion and personal outrage to be swamped by a willingness to "protect" the interests of the Catholic Church and, in so doing, may even have ensured that some individual priests were able to continue their thoroughly disgusting practices.

In one sense he may be absolutely correct when he says that he has broken no laws and told no lies. In my opinion, however and I say this as an atheist a member of the clergy is not the same as the rest of us. They have chosen to serve and be answerable to a Higher Authority: in effect, to be personally responsible for the protection of God's children.

The New Testament is, supposedly, their rule book and moral guide and I'm pretty sure that there's no get-out-clause in there when it comes to how you protect an abused, betrayed child.

One commentator noted yesterday that "as the Vatican moves exceedingly slow, the odds are bound to be on his remaining for the time being and allowing the many who still respect him to orchestrate a departure with dignity, rather than allowing him to be hounded from office by media and political clamour". Oh come on!

They have had over two years to arrange his exit strategy and he has had almost 40 years to wrestle with his conscience.

Anyway, why should he be allowed to leave with dignity? Indeed, the only dignity I have seen in all of this has been the dignity and Everest-high courage of so many former victims who have asked for long overdue justice. The real clamour for Brady's departure has not just come from the media or politicians it has mostly come from ordinary people and ordinary Catholics.

Some argue that what Brady does next must be between him and his conscience. He has had a very, very long time to consider the reality that tens of thousands of people may now abandon their faith and the Catholic Church itself because of his personal sins of omission.

Tens of thousands more may never even come to faith because of what they have seen and heard over this past few years.

Faith matters to millions of people and I respect that fact. It helps them make sense of some things and offers genuine comfort when they are at their lowest ebb.

For Catholics in particular, for whom priests and the Church play a pivotal role in the practice of their faith and in their personal relationship with God, what has been uncovered in the last few years has proved to be a hugely destructive force. Brady cannot distance himself from either the causes or consequences of that destruction.

I sometimes wonder if Primate Brady still has a moral compass. If so, has he looked at the cardinal points on that compass recently hope, charity, faith and love? I suspect that he would discover that the steel needle on that compass irrespective of where it was pointing would indicate the only direction available to him: "In God's name go. For God's sake go."

His continuation in office is a disgrace for himself and a disgrace for the Church he claims to represent.


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