Martin: Full probe only way to get abuse truth
Prelate calls on Brady to 'be accountable'
Published 17/03/2010 | 05:00
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin admitted for the first time last night that a nationwide investigation into clerical sex abuse may be the only way for the truth to emerge about the scale of the scandal.
His remarks intensified pressure on Cardinal Sean Brady, who has been facing continuing calls to resign after it emerged he gathered evidence during an internal church probe into serial sex offender Fr Brendan Smyth.
"It may be necessary if we cannot get a way of ensuring that the truth is out and people know that the truth is out," Archbishop Martin said.
In his first comment on revelations that Cardinal Brady played a key role in a secret canonical inquiry in 1975 into Smyth's abuse of two children but did not inform the gardai, Archbishop Martin said "somebody should have stopped him".
He also called on Cardinal Brady "to be accountable" for silencing two youths abused by the notorious paedophile.
In the statement yesterday, the Catholic Communications Office outlined that Cardinal Brady was involved in interviews with two boys who had been abused by Brendan Smyth.
But this has caused confusion because previous allegations centred on his role in the interviewing of a boy and 14-year-old girl, who is now suing him for damages in the High Court.
The cardinal's spokesman was not available to clarify whether the cardinal was involved in three interviews.
Archbishop Martin said it was "absolutely appalling" that Smyth was abusing children for 30 or 40 years.
"Brendan Smyth should have been stopped from the very first time he abused a child," he said.
Speaking at an ecumenical service in City Quay Church, Archbishop Martin said he had talked to Cardinal Brady by telephone but confirmed that he did not know before the weekend. Asked if Cardinal Brady should have gone to the gardai, Archbishop Martin said he did not know the full details and it was up to the cardinal to explain why he did not.
Asked if the cardinal should resign, Archbishop Martin said: "I have always said it is not my job to tell people to resign. I have never done that. People should be accountable. They should render an account of what they had done. Resignations are personal decisions."
Archbishop Martin said that what was very important in the revelations about the cardinal was that the truth came out.
"People want the entire truth to come out. I do not believe that extending the Murphy Commission to every diocese in Ireland would be the best way to use money for child protection but it may be the only way. It may be necessary if we cannot get a way of ensuring that the truth is out and people know that the truth is out.
"People want to know exactly what happened. I believe that there will be no healing until we fully address the past."
Archbishop Martin said it was important to find a way for bishops and religious orders to get the truth out.
"Time bombs by their definition are going to explode," the archbishop added. "It is better to defuse them by letting the truth come out." Archbishop Martin said that he had received no contact from either the Vatican or the papal nuncio in Dublin since the story about Cardinal Brady's links with Smyth became known.
Campaigners have claimed the failure to notify gardai at the time allowed Smyth to engage in a subsequent 18-year reign of terror against children before he was finally arrested.
A statement issued by the church yesterday repeated claims the current cardinal was a junior figure at the time, but it also revealed that clergy privy to Smyth's crimes advised psychiatric treatment.
The One In Four victims' group executive director Maeve Lewis said: "No one is disputing that Cardinal Brady was not the most senior person in the investigation into Brendan Smyth. But, on the other hand, he was a man in his 30s, he must have known what happened was wrong.
"In the years after that, he must have known that Brendan Smyth was at large.
"Does he feel any remorse for the hundreds of children that I believe were abused by Brendan Smyth?"
Victims of abuse who were raped by Smyth have said they could have been spared their trauma if he had been apprehended in 1975.
But a bishop and close friend of the embattled cardinal insisted the Primate of All Ireland will not quit. Armagh auxiliary bishop Gerard Clifford admitted Cardinal Brady was "under pressure" but claimed he had done "more than most people" for victims of clerical sex abuse.
"What would the removal of Sean Brady do for child safeguarding?'" he asked.