Brady sad to hear of victims' criticism


THE ROLE of the bishop to be appointed to assist Cardinal Seán Brady has not yet been decided, but it will be broader than dealing with the issue of child abuse, the cardinal said yesterday.

Cardinal Brady, the Catholic primate, said that while he had asked the pope for help at episcopal level “it’s not yet clarified if it’s a coadjutor or auxiliary [bishop]” that would be provided.

A coadjutor bishop has automatic rights to succession under canon law. An auxiliary bishop has no such rights.

The cardinal added that such an appointment would not be “a totally new situation”. He said: “When I came here in 1995 there were three bishops. But I’m now 15 years older. I would welcome any help in any commitments I have to fulfil.” He pointed to the archdiocese of Dublin and to Down and Connor were there are also currently two auxiliary bishops each.

The cardinal is facing fresh criticism since announcing on Monday night that he intends to stay on as Archbishop of Armagh. He reached his decision “about two weeks ago” following deep consideration of his position since St Patrick’s Day when he apologised for his failings in relation to the abuse of children by Fr Brendan Smyth in 1975.

Having spoken and listened to victims of abuse, to colleagues and others, he said he wanted to remain as primate to work to strengthen child protection and to repair damage caused to the church by the scandal.

Speaking to The Irish Timesafter a Confirmation ceremony in the Cooley area of his archdiocese, the cardinal said: “I have come to the conclusion to stay in my place and to play my part in progressing child protection and also the renewal of the faith.” Responding to the vocal criticism from some victims of clerical sexual abuse, Dr Brady said he was “sad to hear it”.

Marie Collins, who was abused as a child in Crumlin children’s hospital in Dublin, met the cardinal as he canvassed opinion on his future. “I think the church needs new leadership and I’m disappointed that we’re not going to get it,” she said yesterday.

“It’s not a question of revenge, it’s a question of taking responsibility. We can’t have change in the church here until everyone in the top realises how actions of the past decimated so many lives.”

Cardinal Brady responded to the criticism generally, saying: “I’m sorry to hear it, but it’s understandable. Some people will be disappointed, I’ve heard it before. I take it seriously. It helped me to grow in my own awareness of my own limitations. On the other hand I have to listen to people who say they want me to stay and to continue to lead the church in this diocese.”

He had been “overwhelmed” by the level of support and prayer he had received from all over Ireland.

“That is one thing that has consoled me a lot and out of all that has come my decision.” Arriving at that decision had “not been easy”, he said. “I announced on St Patrick’s Day that I would consider the general situation in the light of the pope’s asking for honest self-assessment and also my particular situation.

“I, in the meantime, have listened to a lot of people, reflected as I said I would and listened to survivors, priests and religious and I have decided to continue in my present role to play my part because I want to maintain the momentum towards better child safeguarding and, not alone that, momentum towards renewal of the faith which is essential.” He said he felt called to do this work but said he could not do it alone.

“I’m asking for help. I’m not saying I’m the greatest or anything like that. But I want to continue to do it and to continue to support the efforts of others engaged, in training to ensure that our [child protection] guidelines are implemented.” He said he only wanted to do “what is healing”.

The cardinal (70) said he wished to continue to work without regard to “his personal cost”. Last month, while attending a Confirmation ceremony, he was taken ill and was advised to rest by doctors.