Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Abuse victims' fury as Cardinal Sean Brady refuses to quit

From Times Online May 18, 2010

Abuse victims' fury as Cardinal Sean Brady refuses to quit
(Paul Faith/PA)
Cardinal Brady said he had asked the Pope for "additional support"
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent
Survivors of clerical child sexual abuse called on Irish Roman Catholics to make their voices heard today after Cardinal Sean Brady ended months of speculation about his future by saying he would not resign.

The cardinal, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, is under pressure to stand down after it emerged that he took part in a secret canonical tribunal in 1975 at which two minors were made to swear oaths of silence about their allegations against the paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth.

Smyth went on to rape hundreds more children across Ireland, the UK and the United States before he died in prison in 1997.

In March the cardinal asked for forgiveness, telling a congregation at Armagh cathedral that he would spend the rest of Lent reflecting on his future.

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A few days earlier he had said he would quit only if told to by Pope Benedict XVI.

Last month he was rushed to hospital after collapsing during a confirmation service. He was released the next day and advised to rest.

The cardinal has been struggling with a sex abuse crisis that has engulfed the Irish Church, forcing the resignations of five bishops.

Last week the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, the second most senior Irish cleric, said that “strong forces” were at work “which would prefer that the truth did not emerge” about child sexual abuse and its cover-up, putting him at odds with Cardinal Brady.

In a statement issued to welcome a report from the Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children, Cardinal Brady said he had asked Pope Benedict XVI “for additional support for my work, at episcopal level”.

This was to help him address “the vital work of healing, repentance and renewal, including engagement with survivors of abuse, as well as the many other challenges and opportunities which confront the diocese of Armagh and the Church in Ireland at this time”.

He said that in his remaining years as Archbishop of Armagh he would be “fully committed to building on the substantial progress made in child safeguarding in recent years and to working to bring about the healing, repentance and renewal set out for the church in Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI”.

Marie Collins, a campaigner who was abused by a priest as a child, said that she was not surprised. “I met with him six weeks ago and he gave no indicaton whatsoever that he felt any remorse or regret or even grasped that he’d done anything wrong in the Brendan Smyth case, that he’d left an abuser free for 18 years to continue abusing.”

Ms Collins said that Cardinal Brady’s argument that he had done all that had been expected of him in 1975, by passing the information he gathered from Smyth’s young victims to his superior, was not sufficient. At the time Smyth had some priestly duties removed from him but the police were not informed.

“He [Cardinal Brady] was well aware for the following 18 years that Brendan Smyth was free to continue abusing and he did nothing about it,” she said.

“In his statement he has not even referred to the past, so I think it’s an indication that nothing is changing in the Church, the attitudes are still the same for all the words that we are getting.”

She said of the cardinal’s actions in 1975, when he was an ordinary priest and teacher at a Catholic school in County Cavan:”He had them [the young victims] swear oaths of secrecy about their abuse and the abuser was allowed to walk around in his clerical garb without parents or children knowing he was dangerous.

“Cardinal Brady knew he was dangerous.”

Ms Collins said that other Irish bishops have been forced to resign in recent months because of their roles in decades of cover-up about sexual abuse.

“I would hold Cardinal Brady up to the same standard of behaviour. It’s up to the Catholics of Ireland to decide if they want him to continue being at the top of the Church, a man with his history.

“It’s not up to me or other victims. People know the truth, they know he’s not taking responsibility. They know he’s not being accountable, he doesn’t see any need to step down.

“It’s up to the laity now to decide if that’s the Church they want in the future, if they want to have the old guard there.”

The report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children said that 197 allegations of physical, emotional but mostly sexual abuse had been made to it in the past year. Of the 197 individuals against whom allegations were made, 140 had not faced such allegations before.

Eighty-seven of the allegations related to priests serving in Ireland’s dioceses and 110 came through religious congregations and missionary societies.

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