Belfast Telegraph

Cardinal Sean Brady 'sorry' but he won't resign

Cardinal admits he should have told parents about abuse

By Greg Harkin

Cardinal Sean Brady last night admitted he was wrong when he failed to tell parents that their children were being abused by Fr Brendan Smyth.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland also apologised to a victim of the notorious paedophile priest.

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

Dr Brady also insisted he would not resign despite growing calls for him to do so, many from within the church.

Many believe Dr Brady did not do enough once concerns about Fr Smyth were raised with him when he was a relatively junior cleric.

"There have been many calls from people who want me to stay on," Dr Brady said at Lough Derg last night, indicating that he had been persuaded to stay.

He said he hoped a coadjutor bishop -- with succession rights -- would be appointed to his archdiocese as soon as possible. But he said he didn't know when the Vatican would make that decision.

A BBC documentary aired last week uncovered new revelations about an internal church investigation into clerical child sex abuse in 1975.

It said Mr Boland, then a teenager who had been sexually abused by Fr Smyth, gave the names and addresses of other children who were at risk from the paedophile priest to Dr Brady, then a 36-year-old priest.

He passed the allegations on to his superiors but did not inform police or the children's parents.

Fr Smyth continued to sexually assault one of the boys for a year after that. He also abused the boy's sister for seven years, and four of his cousins, up until 1988.

Asked yesterday if the parents of the children should have been informed at the time, Dr Brady said: "In the particular instance in Dundalk, the parents of all of the victims should have been informed.

"I regret very much that they weren't and obviously if they were in this situation now, I would insist that they be informed."

Mr Boland has refused to meet Dr Brady, insisting he wants a written apology.

Dr Brady told RTE yesterday: "I apologise without hesitation to him and to any victim. I offered that apology last Christmas. I offered to come and see him in person.

"He wanted a public apology and it didn't happen but I repeat now that I publicly apologise to him. I'm sorry that I am not doing that personally but I would like to do that too at the earliest opportunity."

Dr Brady said there was no indication from the Holy See that it wanted him to resign.

The development came as it emerged the diocese where Smyth was based faces the possibility of fresh lawsuits after admitting its role in restoring him to saying Mass.

The Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly has confirmed that the Norbertine Order had sought diocesan approval for a ban on Smyth contacting children to be lifted.

And Bishop O'Reilly confirmed that his predecessor Bishop Francis MacKiernan had authorised Smyth to have contact with children in 1984.

Bishop MacKiernan lifted the ban despite being aware -- after an investigation by then Fr Sean Brady in 1975 -- that Smyth had abused children before.

"This is a massive step forward in terms of admission of responsibility," said one Belfast-based lawyer yesterday. "Up until now civil actions have been directed towards Smyth's order. This has changed things."

Dr Brady was one of three priests who put together a report for Bishop MacKiernan after interviews with Mr Boland and a boy from Cavan.

Despite this, Bishop O'Reilly said his predecessor had given Smyth permission to be in contact with children again a few years later with the church's blessing.

Smyth was then allowed to return to hearing confessions, having contact with children and celebrating Mass publicly in early 1984.

In 1987 reviews became annual until the ban was brought back in 1993 when Bishop MacKiernan learned of criminal investigations into Smyth in the North.

It's understood a number of previously unknown victims of Smyth have come forward in the past six months.

"Ultimately it is now clear that Abbott Smith did not have the final say on Brendan Smyth's access to children between 1984 and 1993 but that this decision was taken by the then Bishop of Kilmore," one Belfast solicitor told the Irish Independent. This is a very significant development for the victims of Smyth during that time."

Belfast Telegraph


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