Belfast Telegraph

Vatican 'failed' abuse victims

The Vatican has miserably failed the victims of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, Stormont's Deputy First Minister has claimed.

Amid continuing calls for Irish Primate Cardinal Sean Brady to resign over his involvement in a controversial Church probe that did not stop notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth's reign of abuse, Martin McGuinness shifted focus to Rome's attitude to historic clerical sex crimes.

"The issue of Cardinal Brady's position in all of this is important for a lot of people but of more importance to me is the attitude that pertains in the Vatican and I believe that the major failing that exists in the Catholic Church resides in the Vatican," said the Sinn Fein politician.

Mr McGuinness hit out at how Rome had approached previous inquiries into abuse scandals and warned the Catholic authorities that if they failed to co-operate with a forthcoming investigation into institutional abuse in Northern Ireland they would be compelled to do so.

He also noted calls from Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for an independent inquiry specifically on the Smyth case. The sex attacker, who died in 1997, was able to continue to abuse children for almost two decades after concerns were first raised with the Church in the 1970s.

The Sinn Fein MP and MLA claimed recent attempts by the Vatican to censure progressive priests was an attempt to deflect attention from its failings on abuse.

On Monday, Cardinal Brady apologised to one of Smyth's victims.

Brendan Boland was among those targeted by the predatory sex attacker in 1975.

But the primate said he had no intention of resigning, despite pressure from those who believe the then relatively junior cleric did not do enough once allegations about Smyth were raised with him.

Mr McGuinness has urged the cardinal to reflect on his position, but during Assembly question time he said he was more concerned with the attitude of the Vatican to sex abuse.

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