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Cardinal Brady says he had no power to stop Brendan Smyth

However, he accepts that he was “part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society, and the Church.”
May 2nd 2012, 2:49 PM 4,238 92

RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS made by BBC’s This World last night, Cardinal Seán Brady has criticised the programme makers for overstating and “seriously misrepresenting” his role in a 1975 church inquiry into allegations of child abuse against notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

In the written statement, the top official of the Catholic Church in Ireland said he will not resign over the fresh claims but intends to continue the “vital work” being carried out to ensure proper and robust procedures are in place to respond to any allegations of abuse against children.

Commenting on the secret inquiry in 1975, Brady said last night’s programme gave the impression that he was the only one to know of the allegations and that he “somehow had the power to stop Brendan Smyth”.

“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him,” he said, after refuting notions that he led the investigation.

Then just a priest, Brady said he was asked by those more senior to him to assist in the process on a “one-off basis” and was identified as a “notary or note taker”.

“Any suggestion that I was other than a ‘notary’ in the process of recording evidence from Mr Boland, is false and misleading,” he said.

Comparing the situation to today’s rules, the Cardinal said that the person who receives and records details from a child is not the person with the responsibility to report the allegations.

He said that he believed Smyth’s superiors at the Norbertine Order would have taken the appropriate action at the time and was “shocked, appalled and outraged” to learn that the priest had abused others after the inquiry was complete.

However, he added that he accepts he played a part of the “unhelpful culture of deference and silence” in the church and wider Irish society.

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.

No resignation

Claiming that the BBC This World programme set out to “deliberately exaggerate” his role in the events of 1975, Brady said it was misleading to apply a response about a potential reason for resignation to a “completely different situation”.

The programme made reference to a statement I made in the course of an RTE interview in which I suggested that if my failure to act on an allegation of abuse against a child led to further children being abused, that I would then consider resigning from my position. The programme failed to point out, however, that I gave this answer in response to a question specifically about someone in a position of ‘Management’, someone who was already a Bishop or Religious Superior with ultimate responsibility for managing a priest against whom an allegation has been made. In 1975, I was not a Bishop. I was not in that role.

Cardinal Brady’s response has been deemed unsatisfactory by abuse survivors.

Marie Collins noted that a 14-year-old boy had “clear view of what needed to be done” without being given guidelines. Tweeting after the broadcast, she said: “Sean Brady should have gone years ago surely he must go now!! Revelations in tonight’s documentary #thisworld were the worst yet.”

Anyone who was in that room that heard those names and addresses should have done something about it.

Collins was also critical of the Vatican investigator Monsignor Charles Scicluna’s defence of what she called the “indefensible”.

Scicluna told RTÉ‘s Morning Ireland that Brady “did what he should have done”.

He forwarded all the information to the people who had power the act.

In the interest of the church in Ireland, they need to have Cardinal Brady. He has shown determination in promoting the protection of children. Ireland needs leaders who have learned the hard way.

The Monsignor added that the priest “did what was expected of him by Canon Law and procedures that were acceptable at the time”.

Founder of One in Four, Colm O’Gorman questioned the legal basis on which Cardinal Brady interviewed a teenage boy without their parents consent.

After taking notes at an interview with 14-year-old victim Brendan Boland, Brady talked to one of the other children identified as being at risk. He said this act led to the prompt corroboration of the original evidence.

Boland had told Brady and two other priests about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Smyth when he was 11-years-old. After giving his evidence which he believed might end the abuse of him and others, he was sworn to secrecy.

The Church has said that the purpose of the oath was to give greater integrity to the evidence in the case of a counter claim by Smyth.

This World will be shown again tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.

Anybody affected or distressed by the current focus on child abuse can contact Connect Counselling for free on 1800 477 477 (and from Northern Ireland 00800 477 477 77). Opening hours are from 6 to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Read: Cardinal Brady faces new claims over role in sex abuse inquiry

In full: Cardinal Brady responds to allegations over role in abuse inquiry>

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Sinead O'Carroll


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