Victims' groups criticise cardinal

 

VICTIMS’ GROUPS yesterday expressed disappointment at Cardinal Seán Bradys decision not to resign over his handling of abuse allegations against paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

The One in Four group said Dr Brady’s stance made it difficult to believe the church was truly committed to reforming itself.

“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,” the agency’s director, Maeve Lewis said.

She said the cardinal’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 was happening.

“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,” she said.

Dublin abuse victim Marie Collins said Dr Brady was aware that Smyth was free to abuse for 18 years and “did nothing about it”.

On RTÉ television’s Frontlineprogramme on Monday 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 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. Ms Collins said she met the cardinal six weeks ago, and that 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”.

Another abuse 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 and their subsequent cover-up.

“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 Dr Brady as an 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 added.