Cardinal Sean Brady: I didn’t help hide priest’s child abuse
Cardinal Sean Brady last night rejected calls to resign over his role as a bishop’s secretary in the Catholic Church’s cover-up of crimes by paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth, who abused dozens of children over four decades.
He acknowledged he attended separate meetings with two of Smyth’s victims in 1975 in which they were asked to sign an oath of silence as the Church looked for evidence against the priest.
The investigation which Cardinal Brady was part of led to Smyth officially being thrown out of the Church — but he went on to abuse again before being convicted in the 1990s of crimes in the Republic and Northern Ireland.
And it emerged last night that Cardinal Brady did not tell Pope Benedict he was facing imminent legal proceedings — he is being sued by another of Smyth’s victims over his failure to report the crimes.
But despite two days of intense talks between the pontiff and the Irish Catholic hierarchy in Rome last month, it has been learned that Vatican officials were not told about the pending Irish High Court action.
Asked if Cardinal Brady had spoken with the Pope about the impending proceedings, his spokesman said last night that there were no specifics discussed.
Cardinal Brady yesterday said he was not the designated person at the time to report the abuse to the authorities, adding: “Frankly I don’t believe that this is a resigning matter.”
Describing his role in one of the cases, he said he acted in an interview with a victim as a “notary” instructed by then Bishop of Kilmore Francis McKiernan, who he said had set up a canonical inquiry to get evidence against Smyth.
“I didn’t have any decision-making power in it,” said Cardinal Brady. “The reason for the oath was to give it credibility and strength in law and robustness against any challenge because he was going to use the evidence which this inquiry would produce to take disciplinary action. That inquiry got under way.
“In the space of two or three weeks he had the firm reasons which he wanted to remove Father Brendan Smyth and he immediately set out to Kilnacrott Abbey (where Smyth was based) and did so. That’s on the record.”
Maeve Lewis from One in Four, a support group for victims of abuse, condemned the cardinal’s failure to report the abuse.
“This latest disclosure removes Cardinal Brady's credibility to provide the leadership that is so vital at this time, leaving him no option but to resign,” she said.