Belfast Telegraph

Cardinal Sean Brady highly regarded until abuse cover-up scandal

By Sarah MacDonald

Cardinal Sean Brady was the only churchman from Ireland or Britain at the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013.

Highly regarded in the Catholic Church, the revelation that he was linked to the cover-up of child sex abuse in the 1970s was the first time he had faced major criticism from the faithful.

Dr Brady was ordained a priest in 1964, after studying for the priesthood in Maynooth and Rome. As a seminarian he played at minor football for Cavan in GAA football and was even selected for senior level. However, he had to pass it up when he was sent to Rome to study for a doctorate in canon law.

In 1975, he was present when children signed a vow of silence after they accused paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth of sexually abusing them.

Smyth continued abusing children and was not jailed until 1994.

He died three years later. In his lifetime he sexually abused and indecently assaulted 90 children.

Meanwhile, Fr Brady was made a bishop in 1995 and a cardinal in 2007.

After his role in the abuse scandal was confirmed 2010, he insisted he would not resign.

Although admitting he would act differently today if faced with the same situation, he said he had obeyed Church law at the time by reporting his findings to a bishop.

"I played my part, the part I had 35 years ago, as a priest recording secretary to the best of my ability. We are now judging the behaviour of 35 years ago by the standards we set today and I don't think that is fair and it's not applied to other sectors of society," he said.

The calls for his resignation subsided somewhat after the appointment last year of Archbishop Eamon Martin. This was seen as an indication that Cardinal Brady was preparing to hand over the reins.

In an interview at Christmas he said he was looking forward to his retirement.

Pope likely to approve decision by Cardinal Brady to step down  

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