Cardinal Brady's resignation 'too little, too late'
Author and victim of abuser Brendan Smyth claims letter to Pope is 'attempt to save face'
Published 17/08/2014 | 02:30
The author of the recently published book Sworn to Silence that made devastating revelations about Cardinal Sean Brady has dismissed his resignation letter as "too little too late".
Brendan Boland was an 11-year-old altar boy in Dundalk when he was abused by Fr Brendan Smyth in the 1970s. Two years after the abuse began, he told another priest what was happening and a secret church inquiry was arranged.
He was questioned in isolation by a group of priests, including the then Fr John Brady. He was sworn to silence and the gardai were never informed, even though he had given the names of other boys who were at risk.
Yesterday, Brendan Boland made clear his dissatisfaction with the letter sent by Cardinal Brady.
He told the Sunday Independent: "This resignation is a long time coming. Cardinal Brady should have handed in his resignation back in 2010 (when a TV expose was broadcast).
"Maybe he should have never taken the job in the first place. He had crucial information at the time of his appointment: names and addresses supplied by me of numerous children who were at risk of abuse by Brendan Smyth. I thought I had been able to save these children but they were abused anyway."
Mr Boland had supplied these names to the investigating priests, including Fr Brady, but no action was taken apart from telling Fr Smyth's superior.
"I and other victims of clerical sexual abuse are extremely disappointed that although Cardinal Brady is resigning, it appears to us that he is retiring naturally upon turning 75, as if he has done nothing wrong.
"I feel let down again by the Church. In its attempts to save face, it has failed yet again to acknowledge the mishandling of the information I gave them back in 1975. This is really just another slap in the face for victims. It is not really resignation, it's simply retirement," he added,
Sworn to Silence first appeared on booksehlves four weeks ago and included explicit transcripts of the Church inquiry, revealing the intrusive nature of the questioning.
On the day of the inquiry in March 1975, 14-year-old Brendan Boland was alone with his interrogators while his father was left outside the room. At the end of the questioning he had to sign an oath of secrecy, also signed by Fr Brady, who was the most junior member of the canonical investigation, and was taking notes of the proceedings. The highly inappropriate questioning by the group of three priests makes shocking reading today.
Brendan Boland was asked if he knew what an erection was; whether his penis had become stiff; whether he liked it; whether he had done these things before with another boy or a man; whether the abuse by Smyth had led him to masturbate alone, and other intrusive questions.
In the book, he says that even as a boy he realised that this seemed to be aimed at making him feel guilty: "I felt it put blame back on me: the blame and the shame. Because if I was masturbating, well, that was because I enjoyed it. And if I enjoyed that, well, then I must have enjoyed being assaulted by Fr Smyth."
Cardinal Brady was due to retire yesterday, his 75th birthday, but his early letter to Pope Francis expressing his desire to go may have been prompted by the embarrassing material in Mr Boland's book. Ireland's most senior Catholic clergyman had stubbornly resisted calls for his resignation for four years, and - at least as the official report in concerned - his exit will be classified as a retirement.
Under Church law, two types of bishops are required to immediately tender their resignations to the Pope: those who reach the age of 75 and those who have "become unsuited for the fulfilment of office".
Cardinal Brady never wanted to be counted amongst the 'unsuited', hence his insistence on staying. Now, when the official statement from the Vatican is released announcing - sooner rather than later - that the offer of resignation has been accepted, it will list the fact that it is because of age rather than unsuitability.
Sean Brady had a meteoritic rise in the Catholic Church, from a boyhood spent in rural Co Cavan to acting as one of the select group who chose Pope Francis to lead the global Church in last year's conclave,
It was his superiors' decision to send him to study Canon Law that thrust a young Fr Brady in to the saga surrounding the notorious abuser Brendan Smyth in 1975.
Fr Brady acted as the note-taker - a role that would come back to haunt him 35 years later while trying to steer the Church in Ireland through its darkest days.