Thursday 21 September 2017

Smyth sex crimes were ignored by the Church to protect its name

Paedophile Brendan Smyth Picture: Steve Humphreys
Paedophile Brendan Smyth Picture: Steve Humphreys

Michael McHugh

Paedophile priest Brendan Smyth's sex crimes were ignored to protect the good name of the Catholic Church, a public inquiry found.

Fr Smyth attacked children "far and wide" at residential homes in Northern Ireland from the 1940s and was eventually convicted of more than 100 offences.

But Smyth was allowed a car to roam the country even after he was eventually charged by police in 1991, and over many years his Norbertine religious order and others failed to stop him harming more youngsters.

After his arrest in 1991, Smyth fled to the Republic, where he spent the next three years on the run, staying mostly at Kilnacrott Abbey in Co Cavan.

The report noted a "deliberate decision" to withhold information about Smyth when he was sent to dioceses around the world - and he was given medical treatment as a "cure".

Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady was present at meetings in 1975, when he was a junior cleric, where two teenage victims of Smyth were sworn to secrecy.

"There was a shroud of secrecy and confidentiality with a view to...about not destroying the good name of the Church," he later said.

The report by Anthony Hart did not make findings of systemic failings in relation to the conduct of the interviews, because that could not be said to be relevant to Smyth's abuse.

However, it said the response at the time was "wholly inadequate" police or social services in the Republic or Northern Ireland were not informed.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said: "I welcome the publication of this report and I accept its findings. I apologise unreservedly to all those who suffered from their experience in Church-run institutions, and to their loved ones."

Irish Independent

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