Dr Brady asks priest to take leave as safety concern raised


CARDINAL SEÁN Brady has asked a priest in the archdiocese of Armagh to take a period of leave from his ministry following concerns raised about child safety.

Dr Brady celebrated Mass in the priest’s parish on Saturday night and informed the congregation about his decision, saying the “safety and welfare of the child must be our paramount concern”.

In a statement published on the archdiocese of Armagh’s website, Dr Brady said yesterday he had asked a priest in the archdiocese to take leave from his ministry “in light of information relating to child safeguarding issues”.

“This is to allow the civil authorities, who have been informed, to investigate this matter,” he said.

Dr Brady said the priest had agreed to his request to take leave and added that he continued to enjoy “the right to the presumption of innocence whilst these matters are being investigated”.

Dr Brady did not reveal the name of the priest or the parish concerned.

He also renewed a call to anyone who has suffered abuse at the hands of a priest or religious “to come forward and contact the diocese or the civil authorities”.

His intervention comes as pressure mounts on the Catholic primate of all-Ireland over his handling of clerical child sex abuse cases in his diocese and growing public unease over the cover-up of of abuse by the church authorities.

Earlier this month Dr Brady apologised for failing to report allegations of child sex abuse to the civil authorities made against paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

It emerged that Dr Brady conducted canonical inquiries into allegations made by two young people 35 years ago. The two victims were sworn to secrecy at the end of the canonical inquiry.

Dr Brady’s spokesman yesterday denied media reports that the Vatican would force him to quit if he didn’t resign following his decision to reflect on what he had heard from victims of abuse.

“That incorrect report quoting anonymous sources does not dignify a response. We are entering Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the universal church is focused on the celebration of the Resurrection and all that it means for the church,” said the spokesman.

Abuse survivor and campaigner Colm O’Gorman said yesterday there was every chance that the Vatican would move against Dr Brady in an attempt to distance itself from the scandal of clerical child sex abuse in the Republic.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Cardinal Brady became a victim of the desire on the part of the Vatican to cut off chunks to try to limit the damage to itself,” said Mr O’Gorman, who added that he thought it was time for Dr Brady to go.

“The way he has responded to the emergence of those cases and the way that he has dealt and managed them since suggests – even at this point – he doesn’t quite get it or understand the issue that he is dealing with.

“You have to question whether he is the right person to lead this organisation right now and to properly manage child protection and other issues going forward,” said Mr O’Gorman, who was one of the first victim’s of clerical child sex abuse to speak out.

Meanwhile, in his Palm Sunday homily, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, said the church in Dublin was “still stung by the horrible abuse which innocent children endured through people who were Christ’s ministers”.

He appealed to Catholics not to leave the church but instead to lead the process of reform.

“If we really understand how we all belong to the one body then we cannot feel that the answer to renewal in the church can come about by leaving the church or by leaving it to others,” he said.