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Friday 22 September 2017

Rome to take action on Brady before year end

DON LAVERY

Vatican likely to appoint coadjutor bishop for top churchman under fire over documentary

CARDINAL Sean Brady -- under increasing pressure over his failure as a priest to report child rape allegations to civil authorities -- will effectively be replaced by a coadjutor bishop within months when Rome finally acts to deal with the latest fallout from the activities of notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth.

Despite a week of unrelenting demands for Dr Brady to resign from Smyth's victims, child abuse groups, politicians, and some clergy, the indications were yesterday that the cardinal has no intention of resigning, particularly as he will play a role in the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next month.

However, with just two years to go to his retirement age of 75, the Vatican, which will also consider reports from the Papal Nuncio's office, is to appoint a coadjutor bishop this year who will be a successor to the cardinal.

Dr Brady had asked for a bishop to be appointed to help him two years ago, that could have been an auxiliary bishop or a coadjutor bishop who would be a successor.

When a coadjutor is appointed he will almost immediately be given the reins of office while Dr Brady will assume a more pastoral role. That move will assuage some of the anger directed at the cardinal over the latest revelations in a BBC documentary last week where it said the then Fr John Brady was one of three clerics who investigated Smyth.

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The documentary, The Shame of the Catholic Church, saw one of Smyth's victims, Brendan Boland, tell how he was abused and how he gave evidence to Dr Brady and two other priests in 1975.

"I felt alone, scared. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know what they were going to ask me. I was only 14," he said.

His father was told to wait outside the room while he was questioned about the abuse, and was asked if he had ever done anything like that before with another man or boy, did he get an erection and did he get to like the abuse.

Brendan and his father were assured the matter would be "dealt with". He named five other people who he believed had been abused in his statement. He was also made sign an oath of secrecy.

Dr Brady responded last week by saying: "I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my bishop had limited authority over him. The only people who had authority within the church to stop Brendan Smyth from having contact with children were his abbot in the monastery in Kilnacrott and his religious superiors in the Norbertine Order."

In later interviews he admitted there was nothing to stop him from going to civil authorities when he learned of the accusations against Smyth. But he refused to take any personal responsibility for the failure, saying it wasn't his place to report the accusations and that he did what he was "sent there to do", take notes and report to his bishop.

"That was the failure of others who didn't follow up what they were being told," he said.

However, Smyth, a notorious child rapist and sex abuser, went on to abuse many other children before being finally caught and jailed in the Nineties. He had been abusing children since the Forties but had been moved by church authorities over the decades to locations in Ireland, Britain and America.

One victim, American lawyer Helen McGonigle who was abused by Smyth at the age of six, and whose sister Kathleen was also abused and later took her own life, called for police in the Republic and North to conduct a public criminal investigation into the matter. Mr Boland also wants an independent investigation into the affair.

Police in the North said they were examining the material in the documentary as part of an investigation into institutional child abuse.

The gardai said they had no comment on the matter.

Sunday Independent

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