RTE News Ireland
Updated: 11:13, Friday, 4 May 2012
A victim of Fr Brendan Smyth has said Cardinal Seán Brady should not only resign but should be investigated by secular authorities for possible criminal charges.
A victim of Fr Brendan Smyth has said Cardinal Seán Brady should not only resign but be investigated by secular authorities for possible criminal charges.
US lawyer Helen McGonigle was abused by the paedophile priest in the late 1960s in Rhode Island.
Speaking to BBC Ulster this morning, Ms McGonigle said she was “outraged” by Cardinal Brady’s response to allegations in a BBC documentary broadcast this week.
‘The Shame of the Catholic Church’ claimed that Cardinal Brady did not pass on information about abuse to families of children involved.
Ms McGonigle said he had shown “arrogance and insensitivity”.
The lawyer said the events of 1975 came after Smyth “had destroyed” her family, but said she had great sympathy for those who suffered in subsequent years.
Ms McGonigle said Cardinal Sean Brady’s “duty as a human” was to protect children. She said the failure to act properly on Brendan Boland’s complaint was “unforgivable”.
Elsewhere, the Catholic Communications Office has rejected reports that Cardinal Brady was willing to resign two years ago over the affair.
A report in today’s Irish Independent says that the Vatican rejected an offer from Cardinal Brady to step down.
More calls for resignation
Meanwhile, one of the country’s leading theologians has said Cardinal Brady has lost his moral credibility and should resign as the Catholic Primate of All Ireland.
Fr Vincent Twomey, a retired professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, said there were issues arising from the current controversy that the Catholic Church must address internally.
Earlier this week, the BBC documentary alleged that claims made by a boy in 1975 – to a church inquiry – were not passed on to parents of other victims or to gardaí or police.
Fr Twomey said that he thought Cardinal Brady should now step down for the good of the church.
The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has also called for the cardinal to resign.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, she said: “He was a man in his middle 30s at the time who was a Doctor of Divinity.
“You could say at that stage that people like that were tremendously naiive. But he was highly educated. He also held a position in a school.
“I personally think that he needs to reflect on his position, and were he to ask me for my view on a personal basis, I would say his position is not really sustainable.”
Theologian calls on Cardinal Sean Brady to resign
BBC News Northern Ireland
o4 May 2012
One of Ireland’s leading theologians has said Cardinal Sean Brady should resign as Catholic Primate of all-Ireland.
It follows fresh claims about a church inquiry into clerical child abuse.
Fr Vincent Twomey, a former Professor at Maynooth College, told RTE that Cardinal Brady has lost his moral authority.
Cardinal Brady is accused of failing to do enough when alerted to abuse allegations when he was a priest.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the Irish deputy PM have both questioned whether Cardinal Brady should remain in his job.
On Tuesday, a BBC documentary revealed that in 1975, a 14-year-old boy who had been sexually abused by a paedophile priest, Fr Brendan Smyth, gave the then Fr Brady the names and addresses of other children who had been abused.
It said Fr Brady did not pass on the details to the police or parents.
On Friday, Helen McGonigle, an American lawyer, who is a victim of Brendan Smyth, also said Cardinal Brady should resign.
She said she was “outraged” by the cardinal’s reaction and said she felt for Brendan Smyth’s victims.
She said she knew the cardinal was standing by his statement that he had “acted and recorded the information and passed it on”.
“But the analogy I draw is you see a burning building with children inside and you say that you have called your boss and you have told them,” she added.
“There are children inside a burning building and then you see that no-one is coming to rescue the children in the burning building why don’t you call the fire department and the police?”
On Thursday, Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said detectives would look at the documentary to assess whether it should be included in their investigation into institutional abuse.
“For the last number of months there has been an investigation ongoing under an operation called Operation Charwell into alleged institutional abuse and this is really the context in which we will examine the material that was made available through the BBC documentary,” he said.
There is a lot at stake for the Vatican, with the important International Eucharistic Congress due to take place in Ireland early next month.
This four-yearly event is formally a celebration of the mass …and in particular what Roman Catholics believe is the “real presence” of Jesus in the blessed bread and wine shared by the congregation.
But it is also a huge convention, bringing Roman Catholics together from across the world for worship and discussion – on this occasion on the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council which made profound reforms in the Church.
The loss of the Church’s leader so close to the event could overshadow the Congress.
“Before we launch into an investigation or make knee-jerk responses to that, we will take an objective, evidence-based assessment of the material that was in that programme.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, Fr Gerard Cusack, abbot of the Norbertine Order at Kilnacrott Abbey in County Cavan, of which Father Brendan Smyth was a member, said he felt Cardinal Brady should not resign.
“I think it is a difficult decision for Cardinal Brady, I would be supporting him in his efforts to continue,” he told Northern Sound radio.
“I think he should hold on.
“I think he has moral authority, he has called himself a wounded healer in the past and he is.”
Fr Cusack, who was not abbot at Kilnacrott Abbey when Brendan Smyth was there, said the order was “gravely sorry” for what had happened.
He also said it was endeavouring to help with counselling and was prepared to meet anybody.
Fr Cusack said the order had “helped a lot of people with out-of-court settlements”.
The abbot said Brendan Smyth was “a difficult man”.
“It is only now we can see how he was grooming victims, little did we know he was abusing these people,” he said.
“Very few people were aware of the cunning nature of people with this disease, it is a real affliction.”
Fr Cusack said that Brendan Smyth had been taken to a number of psychiatrists on the island of Ireland for treatment.
“Every effort was made to get the best professional treatment for Brendan Smyth,” he said.
“We did our best, but our best was not good enough.”
Cardinal Sean Brady vows to remain as former RUC officer says failures let abuse go on
The Belfast Telegraph
Thursday, 3 May 2012
A former RUC officer who was close to the Brendan Smyth investigation has said that the paedophile priest would have been stopped from ruining countless other lives had he been reported to the authorities in 1975.
Cardinal Sean Brady yesterday vowed he would not resign as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland despite new claims that he failed to act on evidence he obtained about clerical child abuse.
The beleaguered Primate — Ireland’s most senior cleric— remained defiant that he would not step down as church leader after mounting pressure grew following further alleged ‘cover up’ revelations rocked the church.
But Cardinal Brady failed to answer questions about his role in interviews with victims of Smyth, particularly why he did not tell police about his criminal activities.
Dr Brady blamed his then superiors for failing to stop Smyth continuing to abuse children over the next 20 years, adding that he felt “betrayed” by their inaction.
“I reported it to my superior, who then reported it to the superior of the priest in question. I trusted that it would happen,” he said. “We’re not hiding behind procedures. There was no desire on my part to cover up, it was to make sure that this abuse stopped.”
Cardinal Brady’s staunch defence came after a BBC documentary said a 14-year-old victim of Smyth warned him in secret interviews in 1975 there were a possible five other victims.
It said Cardinal Brady — then a priest — had been given names and addresses of those being abused by Smyth. He passed the information onto his superiors but not to police or parents.
The senior cleric became visibly flustered when challenged about why he failed to report evidence of child rape to police. Dr Brady admitted there was nothing stopping him from going to civil authorities when he learned of accusations against serial paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth in 1975.
But he refused to take any personal responsibility for the failure, saying it wasn’t his place to report the accusations and that he did what he was “sent there to do”.
The former RUC officer said: “It is my view that there were up to 30 victims of Brendan Smyth between 1975 and his arrest in 1991 — and to be honest there could be dozens more that we never ever found out about,” said the officer.
“Predatory paedophiles like Smyth just don’t suddenly stop.
“I have no doubt these victims and God knows how many others would have been saved from the most horrific attacks had Smyth been stopped earlier.
“The failure of the Catholic Church to deal with this in 1975 is really unforgivable.”
Asked what he thought the then Fr Brady should have done, he said: “There was a culture of keeping this in the Church back then. But had he called in the police Smyth could have been stopped. He should have told the parents.
“That’s my view but it’s not for me to say whether he should resign or not.”
Dr Brady accused the BBC This World programme entitled The Shame Of The Catholic Church, which raised the new claims, as “exaggerating” his role into the 1970s investigation.
“I did what I thought I should do, namely I took the evidence very carefully I was acting as a note-taker not an investigator as the programme said.
“And my main concern there was that the abuse would stop. That the abuser would be halted.
“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my bishop had limited authority.”
He added in a statement: “With others, I feel betrayed that those who had the authority in the Church to stop Brendan Smyth failed to act on the evidence I gave them.
“However, I also accept that I was part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society, and the Church, which thankfully is now a thing of the past.”
In a statement the BBC said: “We stand by the programme which accurately and impartially reports its findings.”
Intense scrutiny on role
Cardinal Sean Brady — the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland — is facing mounting pressure to resign from his post over his handling of the case of notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth.
The Primate of all-Ireland had maintained he was just a note-taker during meetings with a victim of Smyth — altar boy Brendan Boland who was just 14 at the time.
Allegations outlined as part of a BBC documentary into clerical abuse claimed Sean Brady was an investigator into the paedophile priest and that he had failed to pass on any warnings to other victims, their parents, or police, despite accepting the evidence of Brendan Boland and another boy.
A note for a Church inquiry into Smyth in 1975, at which Cardinal Brady was present, puts him in an investigative role.
After abusing Brendan Boland between 1973 and 1975, Fr Brendan Smyth went on to abuse more children, including the sister of another victim named to Cardinal Brady, who was abused for seven years, and four of his cousins who were abused until 1988.
Support from Armagh
Parishioners in Armagh have said while the latest allegations involving clerical child sex abuse has “no doubt” damaged the Catholic church they still support Cardinal Brady.
Patrick Corban, a parishioner for more than 70 years, said he felt Cardinal Brady was a “scapegoat”.
“Yes, the church and bishops at the time all handled the situation badly, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “But there is a larger agenda here. It seems to me the cardinal is being made a scapegoat here.”
The 76-year-old added: “He was at the time obeying the rules and reporting the matter to the senior He did everything he could within the rules he was working in. I believe he is a good man and should not resign.”
Another woman who wished to remain anonymous said: “There is no doubt in my mind that this has damaged the church. But I don’t think if he resigned it would do any good.”
Another man said: “The cardinal was a priest at the time and was doing what he thought was the right course of action.”
Priest’s superiors failed
Cardinal Sean Brady has claimed the only people who had the authority within the Church to stop the prolific serial sex abuser Brendan Smyth were his abbot and his religious superiors in the Norbertine Order.
Abbot Fr Kevin Smith stepped down from his position in the wake of Smyth’s conviction for child sex abuse in 1994.
However, as Smyth’s superior at Holy Trinity Abbey in Kilnacrott, Co Cavan, since 1969, he had known for some time about the paedophile priest’s “propensity to molest children”.
Writing to UTV journalist Chris Moore in 1994, the abbot said: “Fr Smyth’s behaviour has perplexed and troubled our community over many years.”
Fr Smith admitted he had made “many errors” in dealing with Smyth.
Smyth’s abuse of children surfaced soon after his ordination as a member of the Norbertines in 1945. Fr Smith said the serial abuser was re-assigned every two or three years to prevent him from “forming attachments” to families and their children.
An ‘incredible’ response
A reired garda detective who brought a paedophile priest to justice said Cardinal Sean Brady’s response to the fresh revelations is “incredible”.
Martin Ridge said the cardinal’s insistence of a lack of guidelines on dealing with clerical sex abuse in 1975 did not stop him from reporting criminal activity.
Mr Ridge, who helped the investigation into notorious child rapist priest Fr Eugene Greene, said: “I still find it utterly incredulous that anyone can say there were no guidelines on dealing with sex abuse when the law bans such despicable behaviour. It was the duty of anyone, regardless of who they were in 1975, to report rape and child rape to gardai.”
Asked if he believed Church leaders who failed to inform gardai of past crimes should face sanction, he insisted: “The (Irish) Government has spoken about making it a criminal offence for failing to report such crimes.
“My view is simple — such behaviour is already a crime. Withholding information on any criminal offence is in itself a crime by law.”
Primate: I followed rules
Cardinal Brady also admitted that little has changed in the Church with regard to reporting paedophile priests. He insisted he followed the rules at that time.
“I followed out in my actions, what I was sent there to do, to get the evidence, to bring it to the people who had the power to stop this,” he said.
“No, I didn’t have any power over this man,” Dr Brady said, when it was put to him that he could have called police himself.
He confirmed that he wasn’t forbidden by any of his seniors to report the matter to civil authorities; nor did he make further inquires to ensure that the matter had been dealt with.
“I reported it to my superior, who then reported it to a superior of the priest in question, and it was up to them then to take things on. That would still be the case today,” he said.
Dr Brady insisted that he thought something would be done about the allegations.
“I trusted that it would happen, that’s why, when I discovered later on that in fact it hadn’t happened, I was dismayed.”