Cardinal Brady's role questioned


Sir, – Your Legal Affairs Editor (Home News, May 3rd) reports that the then Fr Seán Brady was not under an obligation to report to the Garda that a crime had been committed against two boys.

But the BBC programme, broadcast this week, alleged that Fr Brady not only did not report the offences to the Garda but was a party to the boys swearing an oath on the Bible that they would not divulge what had occurred to anyone – including their parents. If the allegation is true then – quite apart from the immorality of such behaviour – the priests would seem to have been involved in a criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

This should surely be investigated by the Garda, regardless of the current status of Fr Brady. However long ago this occurred, the boys involved were not only damaged by the sexual offences but also by the cover-up of the crime. – Yours, etc,


Professor of Social Policy,

London School of Economics,

Norman Avenue,



Sir – Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore’s call in the Dáil for Cardinal Brady to resign, a call echoed by the Minister for Education, must be taken to express Government policy Home News, May 4th).

No explanation was given of what makes the cardinal’s position a public policy issue. But the Government presumably considers its expressed desire in itself a further reason for the cardinal to resign.

Simultaneously, the Tánaiste proclaimed his belief in church-state separation. Yet his statement implies that the Government has a right to pressure the church on episcopal tenure. It’s only a short step from there to the right to veto episcopal appointment.

The Tánaiste is not serious about church-state separation. The logic of the government’s (and Micheál Martin’s) position leads to making the church accountable to the state.

If Cardinal Brady were to resign now, it would have resulted partly from Government pressure. The Government’s intervention actually creates a reason for his not resigning. That reason arises from the goods of religious freedom, the independence of the church, and church-state separation. – Yours, etc,


N. Kenmore Avenue,




Sir, – Why does the clumsy coalition of Catholic PR advisers and canon lawyers continue to load and fire the gun that is pointing so directly at the episcopal feet?

Once again – after The Shame of the Catholic Church, broadcast this week on BBC – we had the routine notice from the church that guidelines on child sex abuse did not exist in 1975 . . . or words to that effect.

Rape has been a crime on the Statute Book in Ireland since 1829. In fact, between 1829 and 1837 it was punishable by death.

In 1906, Pope Pius X, in his encyclical Vehementer Nos, to the French clergy, wrote: “The one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led and, like a docile flock, to follow the pastors.”

It follows that Pius X thought that the pastors had it in them to lead.

In these circumstances, it is tragic that it never occurred to the pastors – armed as they were with the best brains in the country on the criminal, civil, canon as well as the moral law – that they should formulate and promulgate clear guidelines on child sexual abuse.

In the event, we now know full well where their priorities lay.

At the same time I believe that new strident calls for the resignation of the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh are misplaced, because he won’t listen.

On the other hand, if we believe the word of God, the cardinal’s mind will be occupied for a very long time with thoughts of necks and millstones and troubled seas. – Yours, etc,




Co Wicklow.

A chara, – Almost 50 years ago I was taught by a good and honorable Christian Brother. It came to his attention that a named individual (a lay person, not a teacher) appeared to have an untoward interest in young teenage boys.

The brave Christian Brother went around and asked each of us who were known to him if the individual had “interfered” with us. That was his response to what was no more than an allegation. Concern for children moved him to immediate action.

That contrasts with Cardinal Brady’s hiding behind his superiors. It also underlines a deeper concern. Cardinal Brady was doing what the Catholic bishops and Rome believed and still believe was the right thing. Whatever conscientious concerns he had (and I assume he had some) he was, as a dutiful Catholic, accepting the right of Church authority to override his conscience. That is still their position. A good “Catholic” conscience means you obey the bishops and the Vatican even when you disagree with them, even when you believe they are wrong.

That was the way it was, and if they get their way and suppress all dissent that is the way it will be again. – Yours, etc,


The Orchards,



Sir, – Politicians are lining up to vilify a cleric who documented a meeting 36 years ago. They call for his resignation because his lack of whistleblowing caused some dozens of children to be harmed.

Less than 10 years ago hundreds of bankers took part in credit meetings that sanctioned ludicrously unviable “loans” to property speculators.

Their lack of whistleblowing caused the economic ruin of this country, harming thousands of pensioners, the sick and millions of children, born and unborn.

Almost all those bankers remain in the same jobs, with no political outcry. Am I missing something? – Yours,etc,



Co Kerry.

Sir, – Brian P Ó Cinneide (May 4th) claims that the oath that Cardinal Brady made those violated children swear to silence was to prevent them from spreading rumours. It also prevented them from reporting an unspeakably vile crime to the gardaí. It also allowed the perpetrator to continue violating children for two more decades.

Why are we still arguing about what the cardinal should do? – Yours, etc,




Co Offaly.

Sir, – Cardinal Brady is a good man. He has spent his life in the service of the church. I have no doubt that he is a man of God. As such he must act according to his conscience on this matter. At this time, it is not for others (especially politicians) to tell what is best. – Yours, etc,


Rue de Limana,



Sir, – The mental reservation is beginning to fill up. Another inmate will be arriving shortly. – Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.