Desmond Connell and ‘Cardinal Secrets’


Sir, – Breda O’Brien writes that Prime Time’s documentary Cardinal Secrets took “50 years of neglect on the issue of clerical sexual abuse of children by clergy and dumped it all at his at his door and then used it to demand his resignation” (“Desmond Connell was a complicated man”, Opinion & Analysis, February 25th). This is unfair and untrue. Cardinal Secrets, on which I was the reporter and the late Mary Raftery produced, lifted the lid on widespread clerical abuse in the Dublin diocese and its systematic cover up by the Cardinal Archbishop. It also exposed a culture within the church that valued loyalty to the institution and its hierarchical structure above all else.

I think Bishop Eamon Walsh’s homily at the reception of the Cardinal’s remains is evidence that even Desmond Connell himself would disagree with Breda O’Brien that we “dumped 50 years of abuse at his door”. Bishop Walsh described the Cardinal’s personal reaction as he watched the documentary for the first time and how it led him to “ask for forgiveness from those so shamefully harmed”.

Desmond Connell was ultimately gracious enough to accept his personal responsibility. We did not use the documentary “to demand his resignation”, as Breda O’Brien claims. And contrary to her assertion, the documentary did point out the fact that Archbishop Connell tried to deal with clerical abusers. But he did so within the framework of “church justice”, ignoring civil law and its jurisdiction over crimes committed by clergy against children. – Yours, etc,





Dublin 4.