THE RELUCTANT CARDINAL
The controversy rumbles on and there remains a possibility that it will become even more protracted. Cardinal Sean Brady remains resolute in his refusal to resign in the wake of damning revelations relating to his involvement in the cover up of the abuse allegations against former fellow priest Father Brendan Smyth, in 1975. At that time Brady was part of a Catholic Church investigation team sent to interview 14 year old Brendan Boland who had accused Brendan Smyth of systematically abusing him. Brady asserts that he was only there as a “note taker” to the main investigator Monsignor Francis Donnelly. However in light of a recent BBC documentary it has emerged that he was much more than a note taker and that in fact he withheld valuable information that allowed not only Brendan Smyth to continue in his side line of paedophilia, but many other clerics to operate unhindered in a similar fashion.
A damning statistic shows that since the original investigation in March 1975 until his arrest as a chronic child abuser in 1991, a further 30 victims were subjected to severe sexual abuse at the hands of Brendan Smyth. Sean Brady is obviously using his moral authority to maintain his innocence. He is far from innocent and was in fact an instrumental figure in a huge cover up. In 1975 young Brendan Boland was made to sign an oath that stated he was only permitted to discuss the matter with “authorised priests”. A move no doubt orchestrated by the Church to ensure control. Kevin Smyth was the Abbot of Norbertine Abbey in County Cavan at the time the accusations came to light. Information relating to Brendan Smyth was passed to Kevin Smyth by then Bishop—Francis McKeirnan—who in turn had been tipped off by Sean Brady. Abbot Smyth was forced to resign his post at Norbertine but was retained as parish priest in the Ballyjamesduff area.
In recent times there has been an extensive list of resignations by Irish Bishops amidst allegations of abuse clearly underlining the scale of the problem within the Church. The pressure is firmly on Brady to do the honourable thing and resign. But honour, sadly does not seem to be high on the list of the Cardinal’s virtues. Leading politicians on both sides of the border have urged him to go. A Stormont justice committee have written to the PSNI to ascertain what action they propose to take. Undoubtedly a crime has taken place—withholding information about a dangerous child predator-(1967 Criminal Law Act NI). By his shielding a monstrous child abuser Brady in effect aided and abetted all those other cases of abuse up until Brendan Smyth’s arrest in 1991. It is highly unlikely that criminal proceedings will be pursued against the highest ranking cleric in the Catholic Church in Ireland. More likely however is that the Vatican will step in and replace Brady with a handpicked cleric and slide the disgraced Cardinal into the shadows where, they hope he will remain—Out of sight—out of mind.