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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Abuse survivors' anger at Cardinal's response

Abuse survivors claimed today that Cardinal Sean Brady's vow to remain in office was a mistake and sent out a signal that the Church has not changed.

Marie Collins, who met the senior clergyman several weeks ago in Armagh, said the cardinal would have shown much more leadership by stepping down.

"I think the Church needs new leadership and I'm disappointed that we're not going to get it," Ms Collins said.

"It's not a question of revenge, it's a question of taking responsibility. We can't have change in the Church here until everyone in the top realises how actions of the past decimated so many lives."

Ms Collins, abused as a child in Crumlin Children's Hospital, said she was disappointed Cardinal Brady had not acknowledged in his statement that Fr Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse children after his activities became known to the Church.

"I think Cardinal Brady is making a mistake," Ms Collins said. "I think the signal that is sent out is, 'no change, we'll keep the same leadership and we'll keep on going in the same way as we always have'."

Fellow survivor Andrew Madden said he was not surprised by the cardinal's pledge to stay in his post, adding he did not believe the cleric had any intention of resigning.

"I think they have a huge credibility problem if they try to speak, of child protection or other moral issues, when their own leadership was involved in the cover-up of the sexual abuses of children and kept it quiet for 35 years," Mr Madden said.

"It's very damaging for people on the ground who are doing child protection to see that they're doing one thing, and that the leadership is minimising what Brady did in 1975 while they're trying to be taken seriously."

Support group One in Four said victims want senior clergymen to be accountable for what they have done and resign, and accused the Archbishop of Armagh of not listening to survivors.

The group said that in the week of the anniversary of the Ryan Report it was sad that so little of substance has changed in the Church.

The organisation said Cardinal Brady's stance made it difficult to believe there had been any real change and urged him to ensure that every member of the Catholic Church prioritised child protection.

Maeve Lewis, executive director, said: "If Cardinal Brady is genuine in his desire to oversee change in the Catholic Church, let him begin by challenging the adversarial, legalistic response that so many survivors continue to meet as they attempt to bring their experiences to the attention of diocesan and congregational authorities.

"Let him also openly take to task those within the Church who have suggested that the Ryan and Murphy reports cannot be accepted without challenge.

"Most importantly let him ensure that every member of the Catholic Church prioritises the protection of children."

The group said it is difficult to trust any real change has happened.

Mr Madden added he is no longer giving the Church or its responses to revelations his attention and is more interested in the wider agenda on the safety, protection and welfare of children.

"I've stopped looking to the Church for a response to all the revelations and reports that we have seen," he added.

"I'm not giving it a lot of attention, other than I'm not surprised he's staying on."

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