Saturday 22 July 2017

Brady under fire over new allegations against priest

Senior cleric steps aside after child complaints

John Cooney and Paul Melia

The embattled head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has found himself at the centre of another child-abuse scandal involving allegations against one of his senior priests.

Cardinal Sean Brady announced yesterday that a parish priest in his archdiocese of Armagh had agreed to step aside from his official duties pending a police investigation.

On Saturday night the 70-year-old cardinal travelled from Armagh to the unidentified parish to concelebrate Mass and tell shocked parishioners about the sudden departure of their parish priest.

Last night, the cardinal's spokesman refused to respond to questions from the Irish Independent about details of the complaint against the cleric, and about when it was first made known to Cardinal Brady.

This latest blow to the cardinal's campaign to remain in office as "a wounded healer" was announced yesterday on the archdiocese of Armagh's website.

Calls for the cardinal to resign have been made for the past two weeks after he admitted that in 1975 he swore to secrecy under church canon law the testimonies of two children who had been abused by paedophile monk Brendan Smyth.

Smyth continued his predatory assaults on more children for 18 years until his arrest and imprisonment in the mid-1990s. He died in 1997.

The announcement said the parish priest had agreed to take leave from his ministry "in the light of information relating to child safeguarding issues".

It said that this was to allow the civil authorities, which had already been informed, to investigate the matter.

But Dr Brady insisted that the priest continued to enjoy the right to the presumption of innocence whilst the matters were being investigated.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has appealed to Catholics thinking of leaving the church because of the clerical child-abuse crisis to remain and help reform the institution from within.

Speaking at a Palm Sunday ceremony in a packed Pro-Cathedral, Archbishop Martin also said that protecting the church was given more priority in the past over healing innocent and vulnerable children, but warned the church would not be reformed by non-believers.

He said fleeing the church was the "quick and easy answer" and that the challenge was "not to get trapped in irrelevant questions of prestige and status" as some disciples did at the Last Supper, but to be like Jesus and not flinch in "remaining faithful to the will of his Father".

Protect

"The church in Dublin is still stung by the horrible abuse which innocent children endured through people who were Christ's ministers and who were called to act in Christ's name," he said.

"How was it that the innocence of children was not embraced; how did it happen that in our church the temptation to protect the institution was given priority over healing the innocent and vulnerable.

"The church will not be reformed by cries from outside. If we really understand how we all belong to the one body then we cannot feel that the answer to renewal in the church can come about by leaving the church. I as archbishop of Dublin am committed to working with all of you who wish to renew our church."

Archbishop Martin's comments were welcomed by Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic support group for victims of abuse.

But spokesman Brian Maguire said Mass-goers had to stand up to local priests not interested in making the necessary changes. "He says absolutely nothing that Voice of the Faithful would not get behind," he said. "It is an invitation to be involved in the renewal of the church.

"The other thing I like is his appeal to each member to ask themselves what they can do. In some cases that's going to mean standing up to their priest and saying that's not how things will be done in future."

Irish Independent

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