Brady insists he will not resign over Smyth case

 

The Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady has renewed his intention to resist calls for his resignation following revelations about his involvement in a 1975 canonical inquiry into child sex abuser Fr Brendan Smyth.

Cardinal Brady yesterday defended his role at the meeting where a boy (10) and a girl (14) who were abused by Smyth were forced to take a vow of silence. He denied he helped to cover up cases of alleged sex abuse of children in the diocese of Kilmore and insisted he would not resign.

Smyth pleaded guilty to 74 charges of sexually abusing children between 1958 and 1993. Sentenced to seven years in prison, Smyth (70) died in jail in 1997.

The cardinal was a priest and a teacher in Kilmore when he was asked to interview two children, under oath of secrecy, by the then bishop Dr Francis McKiernan. He said these interviews formed the basis of the action taken to remove Smyth from pastoral ministry, adding that he was not the “designated person” to report the issue to the civil authorities. He also denied the oath of secrecy was designed to protect the church.

Speaking on Today with Pat Kenny, Monsignor Maurice Dooley, former Professor of Canon Law, said Cardinal Daly had "no obligation whatsoever" to report anything to the gardaí.

"There is no law in Ireland or statute that requires that clergy report crimes to the police," he added.

Monsignor Dooley pointed to paragraph 1.16 of the Murphy report, saying: "it says quite clearly that the clergy, the bishops and so on, had no obligation to report anything to the police".

"Is it a sin against the law of God not to report matters to the police …no I don’t think so…because there are certain people exempt from this moral obligation to report to the police," he said.

Abuse victims Marie Collins, Colm O’Gorman and Andrew Madden have called on the cardinal to resign.

He has “lost all moral authority or credibility”, Ms Collins said. “He knew in 1975 that Brendan Smyth was a child abuser but remained silent for the next 20 years . . . ” she said.

Speaking on RTÉ today, Ms Collins said: "We’ve heard Cardinal Brady talk so many times on this issue and transparency. He never once mentioned being involved in the Brendan Smyth case.

"The Murphy Commission’s remit must be extended to every diocese. How many other children have to sign oaths of secrecy?" she said.

"We can’t let the church legislate for itself any longer," she added.

Mr O’Gorman accused the cardinal of “a disgraceful attempt to further abdicate responsibility for his own failures to do the right thing back in 1975 and act to protect children from a known serial abuser”.

Mr Madden asked why none of the five Irish bishops “known to have been involved in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests, either by acts of commission or omission” had been asked to remove themselves from their roles within the health and education services.

Elsewhere, the Labour Party called for a Garda inquiry into Dr Brady's role in the Fr Smyth case.

The party's spokeswoman on Social and Family Affairs, Roisin Shortal said the cardinal was "hopelessly compromised by what had emerged."

In an interview broadcast on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Dr Brady said he was aware of the calls for him to resign. “I’ve heard those calls, I’ve said I don’t think it was a resigning matter,” he said. “I’ve also heard other calls, many other calls, to stay and to continue the work of addressing this most difficult problem.”

Dr Brady referred to an interview with RTÉ last December in which he said he would resign if he ever found children had been abused as a result of any failing on his part while a bishop or manager. “Well, 30 years ago, 35 years ago, I was not a bishop, I was not a manager, I was a full-time secondary teacher and I was there taking evidence,” he said.

"Thirty-five years ago we were in a different world. We had no guidance, we were in unchartered territory. Now we have higher standards thankfully and certainly I wouldn't act in the same way now as I did then," he added.

The cardinal said there were growing calls for more discourse on “this most painful, most complex and devastating problem” and resignations would not help this process. “I add my voice to those calls for more discussion on the part of all of society, and especially on the part of those most closely involved - the members of the medical profession, the legal profession, the media - about how it is handled,” he said.

Cardinal Brady said the fact that Smyth had gone on to commit further acts of abuse was "because others didn't do their duty."

"I felt I did my duty, the duty that was assigned to me by my bishop. It's not fair to judge actions of 35 years ago by the standards we are following today," he said.

Dr Brady also apologised to the victims of Smyth. "I am deeply sorry that this happened and am committed to doing my utmost now to bring healing and closure and to ensure that such crimes are never committed again."

In a separate interview with BBC Radio Ulster, Dr Brady said he had helped gather evidence for the church to stop Smyth operating as a priest, and that thereafter it was the relevant bishop, plus Smyth’s religious order, who had responsibility for the case.

“Now I know with hindsight that I should have done more, but I thought at the time I was doing what I was required to do. Not just that, but most effectively, I can tell you, I acted with great urgency to get that evidence and to produce it and I believed that in doing so I was following the most effective route to have this stopped and that was my main concern and always has been - the safety of children,” he said.

He said he would only resign “if asked by the Holy Father”.