News Letters

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Letters to the Editor: 'God card' does not give wrongdoers a pass

Published 22/08/2014 | 02:30

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Sean Brady
Sean Brady

In relation to Cardinal Sean Brady's role in not dealing with the serial child sex abuser Fr Brendan Smyth and the swearing of two sexually abused teenagers to secrecy, I agree with Philip O'Neill (Letters, Irish Independent, August 19) that "what he did was inexcusable".

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But what does Mr O'Neill mean when he says "but [this was] driven by the belief that the hand of God guided that institution in all it did"?

This is dangerous territory. The God card does not give wrong-doers a pass. It is not even a fig leaf. Examples of humans doing wrong in the "belief that the hand of God guided that institution in all it did" are manifold throughout history. One need only look to Islamic State, who claim to be fulfilling the will of Allah in Iraq and Syria.

Does the fact that an immoral act is done in the belief that God is guiding those responsible make it any less immoral? To say that, "In reality, he was a fallible leader in a fallible church" is at best euphemistic and misleading.

To my knowledge, the facts are as follows. In 1975, a 14-year-old boy named Brendan Boland was questioned by the then Fr John Brady, a canon lawyer, and the then Dundalk parish priest Monsignor Francis Donnelly, in relation to allegations he had made about a Fr Brendan Smyth. At the end of the inquiry, Brendan said he was handed a bible and made to swear and sign an oath of secrecy.

According to Brendan, the other signature on the oath was that of Fr Brady and the questions and his answers were taken down in handwritten notes by the same Fr Brady. Brendan gave the names and addresses of five or six other children who he said had been abused by Fr Smyth. Neither the children's parents nor gardai were contacted.

According to Brendan, Fr Brady then approached another child and questioned him; again without informing his parents or gardai.

This child was also sworn to secrecy. In 1994 - nearly two decades after Brendan was sworn to secrecy - Fr Smyth was arrested in Northern Ireland. There is a word for what Cardinal Brady did and did not do. You will not find it in the lexicon of canon law. That word is wrong.

It is for the victims of Fr Brendan Smyth to forgive him or not, but it is an insult to them that Fr (Cardinal) Brady did not resign before now. Instead he was promoted to Cardinal and Primate of All Ireland. He will be a Cardinal for life and will get to vote in papal elections until he turns 80.

Rob Sadlier, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin

Tribute to a true visionary

Albert Reynolds was a unique man. He was a humble leader who achieved one of the greatest political goals ever on this island. On the North, while others froze, he saw and then seized the chance.

He secured a historic ceasefire by putting his own head in a political noose.

He won headlines all around the world with the success of the ceasefire. He was a unifier and a pacifier. With a handshake and an open mind he got into the heads of unionists and Republicans and he saw light and common ground where others saw darkness, division and the blindness of the ghetto.

"Who is afraid of peace?" he asked. It was an excellent question.

He found peace in this world, and I have no doubt he will do so in the next.

Thank you, Albert, for your courage strength and vision.

TG O'Brien, Dalkey, Co Dublin


Mayo in need of inspiration

Mayo will have to dig deep to beat an impressive Kerry team in Sunday's semi-final in Croke Park.

Perhaps they will be inspired not only by the presence of the Taoiseach in Croke Park, but also by the memory of the Connaught Rangers, in Gallipoli, who inspired the original naming of Hill 16 as Hill 60.

In my view, Hill 16 confers on the Dubs a great advantage.

Dr Gerald Morgan, The Chaucer Hub, Trinity College, Dublin 2


Irish jihadis and loyalty to State

The report in the Irish Independent on August 21 that as many as 30 jihadi fighters are using Ireland as a base for furtive activities in the Middle East is a matter of profound concern.

Applicants granted naturalised citizenship must, inter alia, be of good character; must intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation and must make a declaration of fidelity to the nation and to this State to faithfully observe its laws and respect its democratic values.

This report begs questions about the adequacy and robustness of the Garda and intelligence vetting of those applying for citizenship, and under what circumstances can naturalised Irish citizenship be revoked if activities are discovered that are seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of Ireland and the conditions under which citizenship is granted.

Ireland was one of 60 members who ratified, in 1973, the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

But individuals who have a right to apply for a passport in another country would not be stateless if Irish citizenship were to be withdrawn from them.

Citizenship is a privilege that comes with responsibilities, duties and obligations. Being a naturalised Irish person must not be reduced to a whimsical flag of convenience whose solemn obligation can be disregarded.

Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Scotland's golden goose

Claims that Scotland is being subsidised by England has encouraged me to vote "No" in the independence referendum. Canny Scots should grab every penny we can. The debate can be re-visited in 20 years or so, when the UK is bankrupt, or earlier if the English kick us out of the Union first!

John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh, Scotland


Protests over abortion laws

* Let's get one thing very straight. The woman at the centre of our latest abortion controversy was not "refused a termination". Her pregnancy was very much terminated, such that she had ceased to be pregnant by the end of the operation. The fact, however, that a baby not dying in the process has given rise to people protesting is not just immoral or unethical, or the real injustice in all this, it's damn well inhumane.

Killian Foley-Walsh, Kilkenny


* Desmond Fitzgerald (Letters, Irish Independent, August 21) while referring to constitutional change regarding issues such as abortion, says: "These are issues that should be removed and dealt with by legislation that reflects the popular will of the people at any given point in time and can be changed accordingly."

However, that effectively means leaving it to our legislators to reflect the "popular will of the people". That can only be achieved through referenda which may result in changes to the Constitution.

He continues, saying to those who oppose abortion: "… that doesn't give you the right to deny another woman her right to make her own decision if she finds herself with a crisis pregnancy."

That is all very well but, when there is another life (the unborn) at stake, then it is only correct that we as a nation should have an input. With the availability and practice of abortion increasing, we have become desensitised to what is actually taking place: the taking of human life. I am sympathetic to the plight of pregnant women who are distressed. May I suggest they first reflect upon the life they are carrying inside.

John Bellew, Dunleer, Co Louth, Co. Louth

Irish Independent

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