Cardinal's 'home town' divided over future of embattled church leader
Published 16/03/2010 | 05:00
OVERLOOKED by the twin peaks of the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland cathedrals is the City of Armagh.
Here opinion on the future of Cardinal Sean Brady as leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland was trenchantly divided yesterday.
The vast majority of those who identified themselves as Church of Ireland or Free Presbyterians were unequivocal that he should go.
But among the Catholic community, opinion was divided between the outspoken supporters of the cardinal and those who refused to comment.
"You can take it that anyone who says 'no comment' wants him to step down but they are afraid to say it," remarked a middle-aged woman outside the Bagel Bean Restaurant on Market Street. The woman and her two friends, who declined to be identified, quietly agreed that Cardinal Brady should resign. "I'd be excommunicated if I gave you my name," she joked.
James McAree, who described himself as being of the Protestant faith, was adamant that Cardinal Brady should stand down.
"There has been a cover-up for years. If he had any decency he should resign. If this was happening with a member of the Protestant denomination he would have to go and it would be world news," he said.
Retired civil servant Noreen Russell, a practising Catholic, was equally adamant that it was not a resigning issue.
"It is not his fault. He was only carrying out his duty. He was an ordinary priest doing his normal duties," she said.
Emmett Lynch had sympathy for the position in which the cardinal found himself. "He is a man of great integrity but he has found himself in a compromising situation that is not of his doing," he said. "Only he can make the decision, knowing all the facts."
However, Colin Kennedy, who said he had been raised Catholic but no longer practised the faith, felt it was a disgrace that Cardinal Brady had been aware of Brendan Smyth's abuse as far back as 1975.
"If he had reported what he knew it might have stopped at least some of the abuse continuing. They think they are a law onto themselves," he said.
Stephen McKenna disagreed. "I don't think he should go. I mean, who are they going to replace him with. I do not think they could find anyone who doesn't have a skeleton in the closet."
Philip McCardle said he believed the cardinal was "doing a good enough job" while Justin McElvanna concurred, adding that Cardinal Brady was getting an "undeserved" hard time.
Back on the hilltop, Steve Contreras, who is retired from US air force, emerged smiling from the imposing St Patrick's Cathedral having just purchased a First Communion book and rosary beads for his granddaughter, back home in Chicago, Illinois.
"These scandals have been going on for so long so it doesn't shock me," he said. "It's all about protecting the institution. That's just the way it is. But I was born Catholic and I still go to church all the time."