Norbertines apologise for Smyth failures


THE LATE Fr Brendan Smyth’s religious order, the Norbertine Community, has apologised to Cardinal Seán Brady and those abused by the paedophile priest for failing to remove him permanently from the exercise of his ministry.

It also said yesterday that the only effective way of dealing with a person like Fr Smyth was “through the rigour of criminal law”.

“We apologise again to each and every person who was abused at any time by Fr Smyth, to their families and to the many others who suffered through these events. We apologise also for our failures to Cardinal Brady, to Bishop Leo O’Reilly and to the congregation and friends who have continued to support us here at the abbey,” said the statement.

The Norbertines are a French-founded order which has approximately 1,500 members world-wide. It has one house in Ireland – the Abbey of the Most Holy Trinity and St Norbert – at Kilnacrott, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.

In its statement the order said Fr Smyth was subject to the authority of its leadership in all matters concerning his behaviour.

“On many occasions over several decades, Fr Smyth availed of psychiatric and other forms of treatment. None of these interventions had any effect. It is clear that the only effective means of dealing with a person of his propensity is through the rigour of criminal law.

“We again acknowledge our failure to remove Fr Smyth permanently from the exercise of ministry. The actions taken by the late Bishop McKiernan in 1975 were necessitated by our failures. Based on the information provided by Fr Brady, who clearly believed those who he had interviewed, Bishop McKiernan prohibited Fr Smyth from exercising ministry in the diocese of Kilmore.

“Since Fr Smyth’s conviction in 1994 we have dedicated ourselves to making amends for his crimes and our failures. Within the limited resources available to us we have made restitution to 42 of Fr Smyth’s victims and have helped very many others through counselling and spiritual support,” said the statement.

The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness yesterday said his comment that Cardinal Brady should consider his position was made in the context of his “political responsibility”.

Mr McGuinness had made the comment in Washington on Tuesday night. Asked yesterday to elaborate, he said: “I’ve said what I’ve said. I am in a position of political responsibility. I was asked for my view . . . and I expressed my view.”