Cardinal back in the pulpit for first time since illness
All-Ireland Catholic Primate Cardinal Sean Brady celebrated Mass in Armagh yesterday for the first time since he collapsed in church a fortnight ago.
He was ordered to rest after suffering a suspected heart attack and was taken to hospital by ambulance during a Confirmation Mass in Tyrone on April 13.
The highest-ranking Catholic cleric in Ireland is under pressure to resign after revelations he was involved in a secretive investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in 1975 against paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
Dr Brady (70) celebrated 12.30pm Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral to mark the arrival of relics of St John Vianney — the patron saint of parish priests.
Ironically, given recent demands on the Catholic leader, one of the themes of the Mass was pastoral leadership.
The visit of the relics, which takes place from April 25-29, was arranged by the bishops of Ireland as part of the specially designated Year for Priests. The Church’s website says the year is an opportunity to seek a holier and renewed priesthood following “the shameful acts that have come to light in recent times”.
Cardinal Brady has faced demands from clerical abuse survivor groups to quit over his role in making two of Smyth’s victims take vows of silence.
Smyth was one of Ireland's most notorious paedophiles. The Church moved him around the country, Northern Ireland, England and the US — even after it knew about the allegations against the Norbertine priest.
The cardinal confirmed he met two alleged victims in the 1970s and passed the information on to superiors, who removed Smyth's licence to act as a priest.
But Smyth continued to rape and molest young boys and girls until he was brought to justice in the mid-1990s.
His case was one of the first paedophile priest scandals to rock the Catholic Church in Ireland and also led to the collapse of the Irish government's Fianna Fail/ Labour coalition in 1994.
He was later jailed for sex attacks on about 90 children in the north and south of Ireland over a 40-year period and died in prison.
Dr Brady is to address the issue of the alleged Church cover-up on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.
Meanwhile, a number of abuse survivors have subsequently called for all bishops who failed to challenge the culture of cover-up to resign if the Irish Catholic Church has any hope of moving forward.
One, Marie Collins, abused in a children's hospital almost 50 years ago, said it was undignified for senior clerics implicated in scandals to cling to power.