Victims' group criticises Cardinal's stance


Victims' group One in Four has expressed disappointment at Cardinal Seán Brady's decision not to resign, saying his stance made it difficult to believe the Catholic Church in Ireland was committed to reforming itself.

Dr Brady has faced several calls to resign since it emerged he conducted an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth as far back as 1975 but failed to notify the civil authorities.

By failing to report Brendan Smith to the authorities at the time he became aware of his sexually abusive behaviour, Cardinal Brady allowed many other children to be sexually abused and "their lives to be devastated", One in Four claimed today.

"While Cardinal Brady states he has consulted with survivors, he certainly has not listened to what they have said Survivors who are in contact with One in Four are very clear that they need senior Catholic churchmen to be accountable for what they have done, and to resign," the group's director Maeve Lewis said

She said the primate's stance was indicative of a belief within the church that "past and familiar practices" could continue, which made it difficult to trust that "any real change" had happened.

She said: "If Cardinal Brady is genuine in his desire to oversee change in the Catholic Church, let him begin by challenging the adversarial, legalistic response that so many survivors continue to meet as they attempt to bring their experiences to the attention of diocesan and congregational authorities.

"Let him also openly take to task those within the Church who have suggested that the Ryan and Murphy Reports cannot be accepted without challenge. Most importantly let him ensure that every member of the Catholic Church prioritises the protection of children."

In the week of the anniversary of the Ryan Report, it is a sad commemoration that so little of substance seems to have altered in the Catholic Church, she added.

Dublin abuse victim Marie Collins said Cardinal Brady was aware that Brendan Smyth was free to abuse for 18 years and "did nothing about it".

On RTÉ television's Frontline programme last night, Ms Collins said the cardinal was not taking responsibility for his actions.

"Cardinal Brady, as a canon lawyer, had young witnesses swear oaths of secrecy about their abuse while the abuser was allowed to walk around in his clerical garb without parents or children knowing he was dangerous. Cardinal Brady, who was Fr Brady at the time, knew he was [dangerous] and for 18 years afterwards."

"Nothing is changing in the church. The attitudes are still the same despite the words we are getting," she said.

"I met with him six weeks ago. He gave no indication whatsoever that he felt any remorse or regret, or even grasped that he'd done anything wrong in the Brendan Smyth case, that he'd left an abuser free for 18 years to continue abusing."

Ms Collins said the former bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Jim Moriarty, had taken the "honourable decision" to resign earlier this year for failing to take action or challenge the cover-up surrounding clerical sexual abuse when he was a junior in the diocese.

"I would hold Cardinal Brady up to the same standard," she said.

"It's just an indication of where we are with the church, it's not a question of the future, it's a question of how these men behaved in the past. It's up to the Catholics of Ireland to decide if they want Cardinal Brady to continue being at the top of the church in this country with his history.

People know the truth, they know he is not taking responsibility, he is not being accountable. He doesn't see any need to step down. It's up to laity to decide if that's the church they want in the future, if they want the old guard there,"she said.

Fellow survivor Andrew Madden said he was not surprised by the cardinal’s pledge to stay in his post, adding he had given up paying close attention to the church’s response to the revelations of child abuse.

“I think they have a huge credibility problem if they try to speak, of child protection or other moral issues, when their own leadership was involved in the cover-up of the sexual abuses of children and kept it quiet for 35 years,” he said.

John Kelly, of the Survivors of Child Abuse group, described the Dr Brady as a honourable person but claimed "he had failed to do the honourable thing at the time of these allegations, and because of that children were abused, which makes his position untenable."

Christine Buckley, of Dublin's Aislinn centre, said it was appalling to think of two vulnerable victims being “coerced into a code of secrecy”.

“The only strengths respected by the Catholic Church are power, prestige, secrecy and money,” she said.