Brady defends decision to stay

Tue, May 18, 2010, 01:00

Cardinal Seán Brady today defended his decision to stay on as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Dr Brady has faced calls to resign since it emerged on March 14th last that in 1975 he conducted an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth which involved him swearing two teenagers to secrecy.

Standing outside Armagh Cathedral, the 70-year-old cleric acknowledged there were some who would not agree with his decision but vowed to lead the Church’s efforts to improve child protection measures.

“It certainly wasn’t an easy decision,” he said. “I have listened to a lot of people, reflected as I said I would, I listened to survivors, to priests, to religious people up and down the length of this diocese and I have decided to continue in my present role, to play my part in this diocese.

“Because I want to maintain the momentum towards better child safeguarding and not alone that, also the momentum towards renewal of the faith, which is essential here and a big challenge.”

Dr Brady faced damning criticism after it emerged he interviewed two young people in 1975 who alleged they were abused by the infamous Brendan Smyth and sworn to secrecy.

The Cardinal, who has spent weeks meeting survivors of abuse publicly and privately, did not report the case to civil authorities.

After indicating he would stay on last night, the Cardinal said his diocese of Armagh would appoint a full-time director of child safeguarding to handle all future suspicions and allegations of abuse and report directly to civil authorities.

This morning he apologised again to abuse victims.

“I am deeply sorry that they were abused by anybody but especially if it happened by priests or religious (figures),” he said. “I’m sorry if my decision yesterday has upset them, I want to only do what is healing, which I think is the first thing, the programme of healing of those people.”

But Dr Brady said the vast majority of people he had spoken to wanted him to remain in post.

“I was on pilgrimage to Lourdes yesterday with 800 people from this diocese and not one said they had no confidence in me, they said they wanted me to stay and continue this work.”

Cardinal Brady told mass-goers at his St Patrick’s Day homily in March that he would take a period of time to reflect on his future in the church. He confirmed he would stay on following the announcement yesterday of an all-island audit into how the Church handles abuse allegations.

He said he had asked for his own diocese to be inspected by Vatican officials.

The Cardinal went on to praise the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, which will run the review. He said diocesan staff have been asked to fully participate in the soon to be created Independent Safeguarding Authority in Northern Ireland.

It will allow the sharing of soft information on clergy, and the Cardinal urged a similar system be set up in the Republic, and to allow cross-border sharing of information.