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Cardinal Brady: I will not resign over role in inquiry that let abuser off

By on Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cardinal Brady speaks to media outside Armagh cathedral (CNS photo)

Cardinal Brady speaks to media outside Armagh cathedral (CNS photo)

The primate of All Ireland has said he will not resign despite criticism of his role in a 1975 canonical inquiry into a paedophile priest, Norbertine Fr Brendan Smyth.

In a statement issued in Armagh, Northern Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady defended his involvement in the inquiry and accused the BBC documentary The World: The Shame of the Catholic Church of overstating and misrepresenting his role.

He also highlighted that no state or Church guidelines existed in the 1970s in the Irish Republic to assist those responding to an allegation of abuse against a minor.

The BBC documentary reported the testimony of Brendan Boland, a 14-year-old victim of Fr Smyth, arrested in 1994 and convicted in 1997 of sexually assaulting 20 victims over a period of 35 years.

In 1975, Boland told a three-priest inquiry team, which included the then Fr Brady, of his two years of abuse at the hands of Fr Smyth. This became public knowledge in 2010 and led to calls for the cardinal to step down over the oath of secrecy that Boland was forced to sign and the fact that the civil authorities were not informed of the abuse.

The BBC programme reported that, during his deposition, Boland also furnished the inquiry with the names and addresses of other victims of Fr Smyth.

According to journalist Darragh MacIntyre’s report, the parents of these victims were never notified by the Church of the abuse allegations.

One of the victims said in the documentary that he was sexually abused for a further year by Fr Smyth after the inquiry was completed, while his sister was abused until 1982 and that four of his cousins were abused until 1988.

According to Cardinal Brady, when the inquiry was completed he passed all the information he had obtained to his bishop, Bishop Francis McKiernan.

In his May 2 statement, Cardinal Brady rejected the programme’s claim that he was an investigator in the inquiry.

“I did not formulate the questions asked in the inquiry process. I did not put these questions to Mr Boland. I simply recorded the answers that he gave,” he said.

“The documentation of the interview with Brendan Boland, signed in his presence, clearly identifies me as the ‘notary’ or ‘note taker’. Any suggestion that I was other than a ‘notary’ in the process of recording evidence from Mr Boland is false and misleading,” Cardinal Brady said.

He said he subsequently interviewed one of the alleged victims who lived in his own diocese.

“That I conducted this interview on my own is already on the public record. This provided prompt corroboration of the evidence given by Mr Boland,” he said.

The cardinal also said it was incorrect to suggest that he had the “power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975″.

He said even Bishop McKiernan had limited authority over Fr Smyth, and that those culpable for the inadequate response were the Norbertine abbot and religious superiors.

Describing himself as “shocked, appalled and outraged” when he “first discovered in the mid-1990s that Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse others”, he said he thought that Bishop McKiernan had taken the evidence to the abbot of Kilnacrott and that the abbot would then have prevented Fr Smyth from abusing others.

In an interview with RTE Radio, Mgr Charles Scicluna, the promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, defended Cardinal Brady’s handling of the case.

“He was doing his duty to investigate something that had come to the knowledge of the Church, and I think he fulfilled his duty well,” he said, adding that the then-36-year-old priest acted as a notary, not an investigator.

Cardinal Brady did say that he was part of “an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society and the Church” which he said was now “a thing of the past”.

In the wake of the publication of the Murphy Report in 2009, Cardinal Brady told RTE that he would resign if he found that a child had been abused as a result of any managerial failure on his part.

Two years ago, the cardinal refused to resign, offering to remain on to lead the Church in Ireland forward on its path of renewal as a “wounded healer”. He suggested he was better placed to help it deal with the tragedy of child sexual abuse on account of his brokenness.

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor from Ireland who recently participated in a Vatican symposium on abuse, said she was repeating her 2010 call for Cardinal Brady to resign.

“What I saw in that documentary was just appalling. He has to go and, if he doesn’t, how can a man like that lead the Church in Ireland?” she said.

“I was devastated by Mgr Scicluna’s comments in which he backed Cardinal Brady. I was so impressed with him at the symposium on abuse in Rome in February, and then to hear him defend the indefensible. They are circling the wagons, and the Vatican has decided that Brady cannot go because they are afraid of the domino effect.

“The Church in Ireland has no credibility left,” she said.

  • teigitur

    Playing hurling not a bit passe and oooirish for you Damo? Still, glad to hear you have kept a modicum of your heritage.

  • daclamat

    Then it’s up to the faithful.He hides behind canon law. Leave him to it. What would   a decent faîr minded human being do? Quietly turn your backs and walk away.

  • Greenmoon

    When you talk about Cardinal Brady having “served Ireland and its people well all these years”, are you including those children who were abused after he had discharged his responsibility by merely passing their names to someone else, rather than ensuring that those children were protected from the abuse they subsequently endured?

  • Alan

    “Doctrinal orthodoxy” has nothoing to do with it.  It’s about how the Cardinal behaved in the 1970s.  From other of your posts, it seems that “doctrinal orthodoxy” means what you choose it to mean, and you choose to ignore the teachings of Vatican II where you think they conflict with earlier teachings which you happen to support.

  • Oconnord

    It was a 2010 Human Development Report, I’ll start looking for the link, it’s on the site

    It measured actual figures like average income, infant mortality, life expectancy, crime rates, access to education and much more. The upshot was that we were behind on income but ahead on the other factors.  

    The fact that you worked for SVdP puts things in context, you would have been dealing with the poorest of the poor. Surely if you had been doing a similar job in London you would have seen similar things. Or if you’d been in New York you may even have seen worse things.

  • Oconnord

    I gave it up years ago! I’m too old for a hobby that leaves you as battered as if you’d spent a week in a Turkish prison:)

  • teigitur

    You may well be correct. All cities have their social problems.

  • teigitur

    Lol, only a week1!?

  • Columbia
  • buckle

    “Do you think that, for example, the present Pope was taught that in Bavaria?”

    No but St. Thomas Aquinas did in Paris as he was taught by the Irish monks there.

  • buckle

    The bishops failed to implement Canon law and employed the services of treatment centres who were using nothing more than junk science. The one in Stroud has now been shut down. Astonishingly, Murphy-O’Connor invited St. Luke’s Institute to Manchester despite their involvement in many of the Boston cases which forced Cardinal Law’s resignation.

  • Brian Brady

    Brady was subject to UK law also
    The child from Belfast was a British citizen and Brady knew he had been criminally abused and no report made to the police
    Anticipating the police reaction is neither here or there, he knew and in law was required to inform the police. Even if the RoI had not required a criminal act to be reported and the Irish law unclear that was not true of the Uk
    The PSNI should be interviewing Brady under caution.

  • Parasum

    “Everyone involved was so involved according to the laws and societal beliefs about paedos of the 1970s, not the 2010s. This included a complete ignorance of the true extent of paedophilia in Western society…”

    ## Pre-WW2 society was rife with dislike of Jews, but that did not justify the Shoah. If a Catholic priest is so morally backward that he can’t tell from right & wrong, then why is he ordained ?

    I wasn’t even a Catholic in 1975, & I knew perfectly well that paedophilia was wrong. Why can a Protestant see that, but a Catholic priest be stone-blind to it ?

    The defence is untrue. Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Society of the Paraclete (in the US) spent a lot of his priestly life working with priest paedophiles – & he was adamant that they should not be allowed near the young.  The US bishops chose to forget this – with the expected results.

    “In a 1957 letter to an unnamed archbishop, Fitzgerald said, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils and the wrath of God is upon them and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization [sic].” The letter, addressed to “Most dear Cofounder,” was apparently to Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne of Santa Fe, N.M., who was considered a cofounder of the Paraclete facility at Jemez Springs and a good friend of Fitzgerald.

    Later in the same letter, in language that revealed deep passion, he wrote: “It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat — but even an island is too good for these vipers of whom the Gentle Master said it were better they had not been born — this is an indirect way of saying damned, is it not?””
    It is evasive & specious & cowardly to try to shrug off responsibility as Brady does.

    “Cardinal Brady is not personally responsible for the failures of the 1970s attitudes, no more than he is responsible for the sheer incompetence of the Irish legal system and Police, no more than he is responsible for decisions concerning this case made by his superiors at the time, and likely at the time being to the best of his uninformed 1970s knowledge decisions that he is likely to have considered as being appropriate ones.”

    ## Yes, despite attaining the highest position possible in the Irish Church, he had absolutely no moral influence over any part of Irish society. Are people seriously expected to believe that ? What happened to being a leaven in society ? It seems “the salt of the earth” has lost any savour it had. Time to throw it out. People who lack the moral fibre to take responsibility have no business to be bishops. If that was “his best”, it was contemptible.

  • Parasum

    Some of the ecclesiastical art in Rome over the last few years is incredible. And that is not a compliment.

    More bad Church art (includes a Vulcan Madonna):

  • JabbaPapa

    What, exactly, would you do — faced with a Police that did not pursue complaints, and a legal system not requiring you to do anything ? And the requirement that you can only fire a priest when proven guilty by the civil courts ?

  • JabbaPapa

    & I knew perfectly well that paedophilia was wrong

    And nobody here is saying the opposite.

    However, it is not truthful to try and claim that the attitudes that we have today existed in the 1970s — remember : there was at the time actually an active public campaign by some homosexual pressure groups to get it legalised !!!!

  • Greenmoon

    I would do what I would hope any follower of Christ would do, ensure the safety of any vulnerable, innocent child, not wash my hands of the whole thing (sound familiar!) having done my duty by “taking notes” and passing the buck further up the line.

  • daclamat

    If Rome resigns him it will give him a cushy job in the curia. There is a simpler solution. Walk away. Stop paying him, along with the rest of his self perpetuating geriatric confreres.

  • Womanofvalor

    Hi Benedict

    I have rejected Church teachings throughout my life, mainly because I didn’t understand them. As I changed careers and became an RE teacher in later life and my understanding grew not only did I accept her teachings, but they came to be evidence of the existence of God for me when I went through some difficult times.
    The trouble is that when it came to the social issues eg contraception etc, the Church does not teach this to her charges and, with the open rebellion of some priests, people are left with the impression that they can and should reject them.
    I admire your passion, but please consider that it is not necessarily pride that leads people astray and as they don’t understand they may hear you with a tone of condemnation where loving correction might be more fitting.
    Thank you for your commitment o the bride of Christ, God bless!

  • JabbaPapa

    The (utterly inadequate, admittedly) canon law of the time provided that the Bishop, and only the Bishop, could exercise authority in these affairs at the clerical level.

    Are you saying he should have taken the law into his own hands ? He wasn’t a Bishop, nor a Police Officer, nor a High Court Judge.

    It is absolutely vile that Cardinal Brady is actually being BLAMED for his involvement in investigations into a child abuse case to establish the truth and to pass that truth on to his superiors.

    The question is whether his Bishop covered it up, or if the Irish Police failed to pursue the matter.

  • JabbaPapa

    Actually some correction to my earlier post : In the Cardinal’s own words — As Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Promoter of Justice at the Congregation
    for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed in an interview with RTÉ this
    morning, it was Brendan Smyth’s superiors in the Norbertine Order who
    bear primary responsibility for failing to take the appropriate action
    when presented with the weight of evidence I had faithfully recorded and
    that Bishop McKiernan subsequently presented to them

    In fact, I was shocked, appalled and outraged when I first discovered in
    the mid 1990’s that Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse others. I
    assumed and trusted that when Bishop McKiernan brought the evidence to
    the Abbot of Kilnacrott that the Abbot would then have dealt decisively
    with Brendan Smyth and prevented him from abusing others. With others, I
    feel betrayed that those who had the authority in the Church to stop
    Brendan Smyth failed to act on the evidence I gave them

  • Bob Hayes

    In the 1970s how would the RUC have responded to issues raised in the North? We know – admittedly with hindsight – that indifference and cover-up were the order of the day in the case of abuse at Kincora Boys Home.

  • Sbswan

    cardinal brady should not resign. He is not guilty, though as he says he was part of a bygone culture of silence that pervaded the church in its handling of scandals perpetrated by churchmen. He can and will do the church and it’s members a greater service by staying on where he is and getting to grips with these issues. After all’s said and done, the catholic church is the greatest provider of the means of heroic holiness there is, despite the sins of some of its trusted members. Wanted- a new openness and sincere mea culpa s and much prayer and personal commitment to God.

  • JabbaPapa

    Yes, there was abuse, yes there were cover-ups, but the attitude of the Police was pitiful too, and there *were* also some who are not to blame.

  • Greenmoon

    What I am saying is that Cardinal Brady (along with others) was made aware of very serious criminal allegations of child abuse against a priest and all he did was pass this onto someone else to deal with. I would have thought that given the seriousness of the allegations he would at least have been interested enough in the safety of the other victims to have done everything possible to ensure that the allegations were dealt with properly. I can’t believe that you think his responsibility to protect innocent children ended when he passed his findings onto someone else. Perhaps that was the case given the (possible) remit of the investigation, but as a human being, should he not have ensured that the safety of children was paramount. 

  • I_B_Wild

    There is no doubt in my mind that Cardinal Brady should resign, It matters not that he was a priest, a bishop, a cardinal or the Pope himself. To KNOW that children were being abused, and not even report it to the parents, let alone the police.
    These are not the actions of a decent man, never mind one who purports to be a man of the cloth. It seems his high position is more important to him, than even his conscience.

  • Alan

    Yes, you’ve made this point before, but what is the precise source of this body of teachings?  The Catechism of the 1990s?  An earlier catechism?  All past Papal encyclicals?  There were times when the Church endorsed slavery, and condemned lending money at interest.  Also, verbal formulae can change their meanings over time.  So it’s not as clearcut as you suppose.

  • Cerys11

    Much moved by Peter’s post below  (2 days ago) –   I hope his friend heals.
    Of course the RC Church wasn’t the only institution to behave outrageously towards children in its ‘care’ but as its teachings then – and now – expressly forbad abuse, it acted in contravention of them.  And as her teachings come from the Word of God, in contravention of the Word itself.Shame on her.  The Church, to which I am (mostly) faithful, should do everything within her power to make amends.  For many victims, though, anything she does will be too late - 

  • Rihari_Wilson

    The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland has along with many others  confused reputation with honour. Covering up the dishonourable may temporarily save reputation but honour has been destroyed. “The cardinal also said it was incorrect to suggest that he had the “power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975″. If he did not have this power, why did he not storm Heaven and the hierarchy till those with the power did remove this person. Where is the honour in remaining silent?

  • Oconnord

    You should have seen me when I boxed! Although I seemed to manage to runaway from people just as fast in the ring as on the pitch. In my case it was fly like Concorde and sting like an earthworm.

  • Oconnord

    I answered you comment above but I must question your taste! Northside better than South? Pah… never….

  • teigitur

    Having worked exclusively on the southside, and lived on both sides. I feel I am qualified to make a judgement Damo. No competition. Da northside wins hands down. The poeple are much warmer. The neighbours in the last area I lived were the best I have ever come across.

  • W Oddie

    I agree.

  • Tridentinus

     My post was truncated due to the fact that I suddenly had to attend to another matter and somehow I posted only the first line. Although I am English my mother was Irish and the Ireland I knew in my childhood and well beyond was that of the most Catholic nation on God’s earth. In England growing up and having to attend a Protestant school for a couple of my earliest years, I did endure verbal hostility without the knowledge to argue against it. In Ireland, however, I felt completely at home.
    Of course, the Irish are not the most oppressed people ever, any race or nation could claim to be this. It is sad that you can’t come up with the likes of SS Thomas More and John Fisher down to Evelyn Waugh and even Graham Greene? To take nothing away from them, especially the martyrs, they were a little bit more in the historical public eye than the less high profile Catholics who suffered for their Faith in Ireland and whose sacrifices and martydoms have gone unnoticed and unsung.
    My concept of Ireland until quite recently was ‘The Island of Saints’, perhaps the bolthole for me if life in England became too opressive in the secular sense.
    I make no judgement upon Cardinal Brady but believe it would be beneficial to the Church in Ireland if he were to gracefully resign. The child-sexual-abuse scandal and I distinguish this from the alleged physical abuse in orphanages, Magdelene Homes and the like, was abominable.  The cover-up was worse. Although at the time the Church’s sheer, terror of appearing in a very bad light meant that the offending clerics were shielded by not only the hierarchy but by the Gardai and the RUC and this was absolutely disgraceful.
    The Church in Ireland would do well to ignore the Association of Catholic Priests and to return to the true Catholicism of their forefathers who defied the persecution of, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, James I, Oliver Cromwell and William III. Let it never feel inferior to the English Church after the Reformation because it has no famous names, at least Ireland stayed Catholic up until the present day and hopefully it will remain so.

  • Oconnord

    You artfully dodged the facts though. How can Ireland be pitied when the actual facts show that it’s people have a better quality of life than it’s much richer neighbour. 

  • teigitur

    Oh I doubt if anyone pities Ireland much. Its been a great 10-15 years there. Now its a reality check.The level will be found at some stage.

  • Ga646

    He should go period. Of his own making to a convent for silence and repentance. The victims were clearly “broken” and mentally traumatised as was very clearly shown in that excellent BBC dfocumentary. Otherwise he will be “promoted” to a senior cardinal’s position in Rome just like Bernard Law was for doing absolutely nothing. I cannot agree that he was merely a note taker. He swore the boys to secrecy to protect the image of the church.
    This man is nothing short of shameless and senseless and cares ore about his face than the consequences to the victim. To the Pope Benedict 16, Sir, if he does not go summon him to the Vatican to remove him publically. This will serve as a strong mesage to othes who hid the truth for so long. On the BBC documentary when the reporter chased after him he just walked up the stairs to avoid the questions showing no emotion or contrition at all.

  • Bill Wilson

    So Brady was just a note taker. And Adolph Eichman merely scheduled trains. If he was merely a scribe, why did Brady swear the boys to secrecy and have them sign a document to that effect? The gall of this man defies belief. The real tragedy is that he is not alone in this willful self-delusion. The Vatican, Ireland and the U.S. are filled with prelates like Brady. No wonder people are leaving the church in droves! These guys are more interested in preserving their power and their pretty purple frocks than protecting Jesus’ little ones. Roll out the millstones,

  • another angel

    Yes GA in the documentary when the reporter chased him he walked up the stairs with his head held highas if he had done NOTHING WRONG! He knows he is a cardinal and come what may the VATICAN will protect him! The priest he investigated went on to molest again for many more years.Brendan gave the names of others to AVE them. No one came to protect them. What a shame! The victims parents were not told of their rapes. Now he even says he did not prepare the questions asked – questions like did you enjoy the experience? Did seed come from your body? what sort of canon lawyer is this? This is utterly disgraceful. Maybe the recent apostolic visitors also have some role to protect him?

    If you look at his resume after he bought the boys silence using canon law procedures his career took off. Meaning help the church to silence its victims and YOU WILL BE REWARDED. Some day they might even make him a SAINT! (because he was resilient when he was persecuted by the media) Its all a really sad situation because they (irsh church and others including the Vatican put the words,”Jesus Christ and his Church” side by side in the same sentence meaning if you criticize the church you are criticising Jesus Christ! How clever are the hypocritical clerics of this day!

  • Veuster

    So do I.

  • Don

    The Cardinal has chosen to follow orders ads stay on so at least he is true to form, a man who follows orders to the end. This dos not take courage, merely perseverence and very regrettably is proof that the Church has  learnt nothing from the years of revelations. 

  • Lindi

    Why are we not able to comment on your article about the sexual abuse of under age girls in Rochdale ?

  • Laurencemann

    “Cardinal Brady’s baiters from Dublin to London need to ask themselves how they would have reacted in 1975 to sex between a middle-aged man in their own circles and a 14-year-old boy, or how they would react to such a thing now.”
    Disgust. Just as we would react if the relations had been between a middle-aged man and a girl of 14.

    And you have missed out one element, and that is the element of power and abuse of trust. This priest, and so many others, were in a position of trust, and they had conditioned their victims to believe that they were good people.  

    What Peter Tatchell actually says is: “My articles urging an age of consent of 14 are motivated solely by a desire to reduce the criminalisation of under-16s who have consenting relationships with other young people of similar ages.”
    “I do not support adults having sex with children.”
    “I do not advocate teenagers having sex before the age of 16.”
    “But if they do have sex before their 16th birthday, they should not be arrested, given a criminal record and put on the sex offenders register.”
    “Perhaps the ideal solution would be that the age of consent remains at 16 but that sexual behaviour involving young people under 16 should not be criminalised, providing there is informed consent, no one is harmed and there is no more than two or three years difference in their ages. This would end the criminalisation of similar-aged young people, while protecting the under-16s against sexual abuse by those much older.”

    This is not the same thing as advocating predatory abuse by warped-minded middle aged priests.

    Apologists for Cardinal Brady and those who collaborated in child abuse are little better than holocaust deniers. 

  • sally sprite

    he should go. This man is just shameless. Despite being given the names and addresses of the victims he failed to protect these children. To now put the blame on the Superior General of the Norbetine order is just blame shameless and idiocy. As a canon lawyer he protected the church and swore the complaint to secrecy. How is that getting transparency? He should be held accountable.

    But I guess he will be not….Ireland at his behest sends billions of dollars to the Vatican each year. That should ensure his protection and safety. In the end its about POWER and MONEY

  • Christinecasey5

    Just thinking about the Confiteor, Cardinal Brady shouldn’t say it.

  • humble catholic

    Open letter TO His Holiness Pope Benedict the XVI.
    Most Holy Father, Sir,
    It is not my place to tell you what to do. I humbly request the following:-
    Cardinal Brady should be arrested and charged. Because In 1975 he withheld information about rapes/sodomy to young victims. He had the information he did not pass it along. He is an accessory.

    Before that he should be asked to resign. If he doesn’t he should be pushed out. The papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown should do it bravely and quickly. This man, Cardinal Brady has lost the confidence of his church. He has lost the confidence of his priests. Many are saying quietly that he should go, though they don’t dare say it bravely and publically. He is trying to tough it out hoping that you, Most Holy Father will die first and a new Pope will be more sympathethic.

    The nuncio, should offer a service of penitance at the Cathedral. All victims should be invited and Cardinal Brady should offer them an apology. He should try to shake each victims hand and offer a personal apology if he can.

    Then he should be summouned to Rome to return every symbol of appointment: the zucetta, biretta, ring, letter of appointment, pallium, cardinals robes. The lot…..

    Only the above steps will restore the credibility of the Irish church.

    The cardinal laments that mercy and forgiveness is in short supply today in the Church. Of course it is….How much mercy and help did he show to the victims in the 1970s and 1980s?

    Yours in Christ,
    + a humble catholic