Disbelief as Cardinal claims he did his duty but says others didn’t
CARDINAL Sean Brady today tried to shift the blame to other priests for the Fr Brendan Smyth scandal.
His position became even more precarious as he claimed he did his best but "others didn't do their duty."
Cardinal Brady's position as Ireland's most senior cleric was hanging by a thread this evening as it emerged he knew Fr Smyth was a paedophile at the time the cleric was still abusing children.
The Cardinal refuted accusations that his inaction allowed evil Smyth to continue abusing children for two decades, saying: "I felt I did my duty."
Victims of clerical sex abuse and some clerics rounded on the 70-year-old after he said: "It is not fair to judge the actions of 35 years ago by the standards we are following today."
The Primate of All Ireland has struggled to defend himself after confirming that he never informed civil authorities that Smyth was abusing children when he first found out in 1975.
"I'm very sorry about that. I apologise to those who were abused by Fr Smyth after 1975," the Cardinal said.
It wasn't until 1993 that convicted paedophile Smyth was stopped and as a result victims of clerical sex abuse say Cardinal Brady must now resign.
Today, the Cardinal argued that there were no guidelines for dealing with child abuse investigations in 1975 when he attended secret meetings at which two of Smyth's victims signed oaths of silence.
However, abuse survivor Andrew Madden told the Herald today: “He should have had enough cop on. Nobody needed guidelines.
“Any man or woman outside of the church would have known the right thing to do, that you don't leave this man in a position with access to children.”
Fr Kevin Hegarty, a former editor of the Irish Bishops' Conference- sponsored magazine Intercom echoed that call, stating: “He was very low on the governance stairs in the church at the time but nevertheless he was an adult.”
The Cardinal has said that he did believe the account of events described by the victims but it has emerged that the information was not passed on to gardai or health authorities.
Instead, the evidence he gathered was passed to the late Bishop Francis McKiernan who handled the abuse as an internal church matter.
“I felt I did my duty,” said Cardinal Brady today, adding: “I had no role in the decisionmaking … 35 years ago was a different world.”
He accepted that he wouldn't act in the same way today but reiterated: “I don't think it is a resigning matter.”
Others including abuse victims Colm O'Gorman and Marie Collins also called for his resignation, but the Cardinal said: “I've also heard other calls, many other calls to stay, to continue the work of address this most difficult problem.”
Cardinal Brady is under pressure because of an interview he gave last December in which he said: “If I found myself in the situation where I was aware that my failure to act had allowed or meant that other children were abused, well then I think I would resign.”
But, Cardinal Brady claimed that he was asked what he would do if he failed as a church leader, not as an ordinary priest.
“Well 35 years ago I was not a Bishop, I was not a manager. I was a full time secondary teacher,” he said.
Andrew Madden responded: “He said if he had failed, he would resign and he clearly did. Now it's time for him to own those failings and have some respect for the victims.”
Details of Cardinal Brady's involvement in the Smyth case emerged after he was named as a defendant in a forthcoming High Court action being taken by a female victim of the serial abuser.
In 1994, Smyth admitted to 74 charges of sexual abuse between 1958 and 1993. He died in jail in 1997.
The scandal caused the Fianna Fail/Labour government to fall in 1994 and it now looks likely that even after death the paedophile will cause the downfall of the church's leader in Ireland.
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Fr Kevin Hegarty said: “In order to restore some moral credibility to the church, we need some kind of moral catharsis and I think that, hurtful as it may seem, Cardinal Brady should resign on the basis of these revelations.”
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