Cardinal Brady apologises to Fr Brendan Smyth's victims after revelations two teenage boys were asked if they enjoyed abuse they suffered
Two teenage boys abused by Father Brendan Smyth were interrogated by three priests after speaking out, and even asked whether they had enjoyed their sexual abuse.
The harrowing details of how the victims were treated by the Catholic Church was revealed at the Historic Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIAI) sitting at Banbridge courthouse yesterday.
Former head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady (75), issued an "unreserved apology" to all of Fr Smyth's victims and spoke of his regret at how the situation had been handled.
Giving evidence to the inquiry yesterday, it emerged that Cardinal Brady was present at separate meetings in 1975 with both the boys, aged 14 and 15 years old.
He was then a teacher at St Patrick's College in Cavan and was acting as notary going under the name Father John Brady.
The hearing heard victim A (14), was questioned by three priests at St Malachy's Priory in Dundalk 1975. His father was not allowed in the room during the interrogation.
Cardinal Brady recalled seeing the victim's father in the halls when they emerged from the room where the questioning had taken place.
"His father should have been present," he conceded.
A second victim who came forward was also interrogated by three priests.
Victim B (15), was asked 32 questions by three priests. He had been brought to Dundalk by his curate. His parents were not informed before or after the meeting had taken place.
Both victims signed oaths promising to never talk about the allegations with anyone apart from "authorised priests".
Both boys were also asked whether they had liked the abuse. Victim B was even asked a variation of this question twice. Both boys responded saying no.
Counsel for the inquiry asked Cardinal Brady did he "cringe in horror" that that question had been asked of the victims.
The cardinal said "absolutely", and said while he wasn't defending the question, the idea behind them was to build as "robust" a case as possible against Fr Smyth.
The cardinal told the inquiry that he had believed every word of victim A's testimony then.
At the end of his evidence, Cardinal Brady thanked the HIAI for shining a light in what he termed that dark period of the Church.
He conceded the secret Church inquisition would have been intimidating for a 14-year-old and that some of the questions posed were "inappropriate".
He said he was motivated by an anxiety to stop the sex offender but acknowledged that little or no consideration was given to the impact on the victims - instead the focus was on the offending priest.
The cardinal said: "I have reflected a lot on this. The reasons for such an inquiry would be to assess the impact of the scandal - the scandal being the unspeakable crime being committed against a minor - (and) to see how that affected their (Smyth's) own life, a life of faith and morals."
He went on to offer an "unreserved apology" to all of Fr Smyth's victims.
"I want to express my horror at any children being sexually abused by a priest," he said.
Cardinal Brady was ordained in Rome in 1964. He taught languages at St Patrick's College in Cavan for 13 years before a stint at the Irish College in Rome. He was then ordained as Archbishop of Armagh in 1996. He served as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland until last year when he resigned.
Many of Fr Smyth's victims were present in the courtroom for the hearing yesterday.
Fr Smyth was convicted in the 1990s of more than 100 indecent assaults against children in both Northern Ireland and the Republic over a 40-year period. He has since died.
The hearing continues.