Gardai knew of Brady link to Smyth for years
Published 16/03/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI have known about Cardinal Sean Brady's involvement in the Fr Brendan Smyth affair for several years, the Irish Independent has learnt.
But despite this, detectives made no attempt to charge the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland and others with orchestrating a cover-up during investigations into Smyth's reign of terror.
The revelation came as the Catholic Primate last night refused to bow to intense pressure to resign over revelations he failed to report complaints against the paedophile priest to the civil authorities.
The link between Cardinal Brady and the Smyth case became apparent to gardai several years ago when officers obtained documents giving details of meetings with victims the then Fr Brady attended in 1975.
However, a senior garda source with knowledge of the Smyth inquiry last night said Cardinal Brady's involvement "never came up" as an issue for gardai to pursue.
At those meetings, two children, a boy and a girl, were made to sign undertakings not to discuss their allegations with anybody other than an approved priest.
As secretary to the diocese of Kilmore, Cardinal Brady acted as the recorder of the evidence on behalf of the late Bishop Francis McKiernan at one meeting. At a second meeting, he questioned witnesses and recorded their answers.
The female victim whose evidence was recorded by Cardinal Brady is suing him personally for his failure to alert the civil authorities about her allegations.
Smyth continued abusing children and was not jailed until 1994. He died three years later. During his lifetime, he sexually abused and indecently assaulted 90 children.
Cardinal Brady resisted calls for his resignation for the second day in a row. He again defended his role at the 1975 meetings where the children were asked to take a vow of silence.
Although admitting he would act differently today if faced with the same situation, he said he had obeyed church law at the time by reporting his findings to a bishop.
"I played my part, the part I had 35 years ago, as a priest recording secretary to the best of my ability. We are judging the behaviour of 35 years ago by the standards we set today and I don't think that is fair and it's not applied to other sectors of society," he said.
Cardinal Brady insisted he would only step down if ordered by the Pope.
However, victims groups were unequivocal in their demands for Cardinal Brady to resign.
One-in-Four accused the prelate of "reckless endangerment" and said that his actions could not be excused because it was the prevailing culture within the church at the time.
"One does not need to be a learned theologian or an ordained priest to appreciate how grievously wrong it is to silence young children in order to protect a sex offender," executive director Maeve Lewis said.
"People from every walk of life would instinctively know that such a course of action is completely misguided."
Well-known priest Fr Brian D'Arcy also urged the cardinal to consider his position. However, a veil of silence enveloped all bar two of the country's 23 bishops. Some 22 bishops either refused to comment or their staff said they were unavailable.
Just one, the Bishop of Clogher Joseph Duffy, responded to questions on the controversy submitted by the Irish Independent to each diocese.
Bishop Duffy said he did not believe Cardinal Brady should resign and said he would support the cardinal's decision to stay in office. He also said victims of abuse in his diocese were not required to sign confidentiality agreements as part of their legal settlement or as part of canonical investigations.
Bishop Duffy said he had never taken part in an interview with an abuse victim where they were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
There was also support from a former canon law professor, Monsignor Maurice Dooley, who told RTE Radio Cardinal Brady should not have gone to gardai with the allegations.
The monsignor said that as Cardinal Brady had been conducting in-camera investigations within the church, he would have violated his responsibilities by going to gardai.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Brady could be summoned to Rome to explain to senior cardinals in the Roman Curia why he did not alert them that he and two other clerics were being sued over the affair.