The Catholic Primate of All Ireland has hit out at suggestions he failed to take the appropriate action against paedophile priest Brendan Smyth during a Church inquiry in 1975.
Cardinal Sean Brady said the claims in the BBC’s “This World” documentary aired on Tuesday “overstate and seriously misrepresent my role” in the Church’s investigation into the abuse allegations made against Smyth.
Речь и речевая деятельность
It is estimated that Smyth, a member of the Norbertine order, sexually abused over 100 children in Belfast, Dublin and the US over a period of 40 years.
Smyth’s crimes were first brought to the attention of the Church authorities by 14-year-old victim Brendan Boland and Cardinal Brady was involved in the Church’s subsequent investigation into the claim.
The BBC reports that Cardinal Brady interviewed Boland and another child but swore them to secrecy.
Cardinal Brady refuted the documentary’s suggestion that he had led the investigation of the 1975 Church inquiry and said that, while he was “note taker”, he did not have the authority to take action against Smyth.
"The commentary in the programme and much of the coverage of my role in this inquiry gives the impression that I was the only person who knew of the allegations against Brendan Smyth at that time and that because of the office I hold in the Church today I somehow had the power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975,” he said.
“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him. The only people who had authority within the Church to stop Brendan Smyth from having contact with children were his Abbot in the Monastery in Kilnacrott and his religious superiors in the Norbertine Order.”
Cardinal Brady said he was “shocked, appalled and outraged” when he discovered some 20 years after the inquiry that Smyth had gone on to abuse others.
He also stated that there were no State or Church guidelines in Ireland in 1975 to assist those responding to an allegation of child abuse.
“No training was given to priests, teachers, police officers or others who worked regularly with children about how to respond appropriately should such allegations be made,” he said.
Cardinal Brady has been defended by Monsignor Charles Scicluna, one of the Vatican’s chief sex abuse investigators.
Mgr Scicluna also stated that the principal responsibility in dealing with Smyth lay with others.
“It is clear to me that in 1975 Fr Brady, now Cardinal Brady, acted promptly and with determination to ensure the allegations being made by the children were believed and acted upon by his superiors,” he said.
“His actions were fully consistent with his duties under canon law.
“But the power to act effectively to remove Brendan Smyth from priestly ministry lay exclusively with the Abbot of Holy Trinity Abbey in Kilnacrott and his superiors in the Norbertine Order.
“This is where the sincere efforts of Bishop McKiernan and others like Fr Brady to prevent Brendan Smyth from perpetrating further harm were frustrated, with tragic consequences for the lives of so many children.”
Cardinal Brady has said that he does not intend to resign over the allegations surrounding the 1975 inquiry.
He said: “I deeply regret that those with the authority and responsibility to deal appropriately with Brendan Smyth failed to do so, with tragic and painful consequences for those children he so cruelly abused.
“I also deeply regret that no guidelines from the State or the Church were available to guide the sincere and serious effort made to respond to the allegations made by the two boys interviewed in the Inquiry process.
“It is important to acknowledge that today both the Church and the State have proper and robust procedures in place to respond to allegations of abuse against children.
“I fully support these new procedures which include the obligation to report such allegations promptly to the civil authorities. I have worked with others in the Church to put these new procedures in place and I look forward to continuing that vital work in the years ahead."