Cardinal withdraws from talk in Oxford


THE CATHOLIC primate Cardinal Séan Brady withdrew from a lecture he had been invited to deliver at Oxford on May 12th last after authorities there expressed concerns about his attendance.

It was feared the cardinal’s presence might provoke protests following recent revelations about his handling in 1975 of canonical investigations into allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth. A spokesman for Ireland’s Catholic bishops confirmed this last night.

Cardinal Brady had been invited by the Newman Society at Oxford University to speak on the subject Challenges Facing the Church in Ireland in the Twenty-First Century. He was also to celebrate Mass at Trinity College Oxford, of which Cardinal John Henry Newman was an alumnus.

According to a report in the current issue of English Catholic weekly The Tablet, “he [Cardinal Brady] decided to cancel the visit after concerns were relayed to him by the university’s Catholic chaplaincy”. It is believed also that authorities at Trinity College Oxford were anxious about the possibility that the cardinal’s visit could provoke protests and controversy which it was determined to avoid, particularly at the moment.

It did not want there to be any negative incidents associated with Cardinal Newman who, it is expected, will be beatified by Pope Benedict on his visit to England and Scotland next September.

Last night the Irish Catholic bishops’ spokesman said Cardinal Brady made his final decision on the Oxford visit “having consulted with organisers”. The “decision was made while he was still in his period of reflection”, he said. This was a reference to an announcement by Cardinal Brady that he would reflect on his position.