Cardinal Brady to give evidence on Fr Brendan Smyth

Ex-primate acknowledges culture of ‘secrecy and silence’ over clerical child sex abuse

Retired Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady, who as far back as 1975 heard allegations of sexual abuse against the late  Fr Brendan Smyth, is to give evidence at the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down on Thursday. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Retired Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady, who as far back as 1975 heard allegations of sexual abuse against the late Fr Brendan Smyth, is to give evidence at the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down on Thursday. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

 

Retired Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady has stated there was a culture of “secrecy and silence” in the Catholic Church which believed issues of child abuse could be managed internally.

Cardinal Brady, who as far back as 1975 heard allegations of sexual abuse against Fr Brendan Smyth, is to give evidence at the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down on Thursday.

The inquiry is this week examining whether the church was guilty of systemic failings in how it dealt with the paedophile priest who faced allegations of sexual abuse relating back to the late 1940s.

In a statement to the inquiry about the overall issue of sexual abuse, Cardinal Brady said that “sadly at that time there was a culture within the church of secrecy and silence” where “it was felt that matters could be dealt with within the church structures themselves”.

He added: “Further, there was not a proper understanding of the devastating consequences of child abuse.

Psychiatric tratment

“Many of the bishops believed that psychiatric treatment of the individual perpetrator was an adequate response. The full horror and long-lasting impact of such criminal behaviour has now been grasped.”

Fr Donal Kilduff of the Diocese of Kilmore is to give evidence on Wednesday about the investigation instigated by the former and deceased Bishop of Kilmore Bishop Francis McKiernan into allegations of abuse against Smyth.

This related to a three-person panel which examined abuse allegations in 1975 in the Kilmore diocese and which involved the then Fr John Brady.

How the diocese dealt with Smyth was a matter of “shame and deep sorrow”, said Fr Kilduff in a statement to the inquiry.

Fr William Fitzgerald of Smyth’s Norbertine Order is also to give evidence on Wednesday. He said Smyth should never have been ordained.

“I accept that Brendan Smyth was not a fit person to have access to children at any time or under any circumstance,” he added.

“I am ashamed by the failure as a community to hear these warnings and act accordingly. The shame of our failings is immense.”