Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cardinal reflects on future amid 'cover-up' claims

Greg Harkin

CARDINAL Sean Brady is "reflecting seriously on his future" amid new allegations of cover-ups by the Catholic Church in the Brendan Smyth child abuse scandal.

Sources close to the cardinal told the Irish Independent that he was "fully aware" of the backlash he faced, as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin called for an independent judicial inquiry into how Smyth was allowed to continue to abuse dozens of children.

Cardinal Brady did not appear at masses in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh yesterday as the fallout continued over his failure to tell authorities about abuse complaints against Smyth made in 1975. The controversy took several dramatic new turns yesterday:

• Former abbot Kevin Smith -- who headed Smyth's order at the time of the abuse -- himself called on Cardinal Brady to resign. He said he "wasn't the only one to blame" for Smyth's crimes.

• A man claimed he was abused by Smyth at a school while Fr Brady was teaching there -- even though Fr Brady had already been told of the paedophile's attacks on children.

• The priest who tried to blow the whistle on Smyth in 1975 claimed that the church covered up its own knowledge of Smyth's activities dating back decades.

The latest developments came as a senior church source confirmed to the Irish Independent that the cardinal was "away for the weekend and reflecting seriously on his position".

The source once again confirmed that the cardinal had offered to step down two years ago over the affair and added: "He is still of that mind."

The fallout continues from a BBC documentary which last week revealed that Cardinal Brady had a list of children's names who were being abused but failed to inform gardai and their parents in 1975.

The cardinal gave the information to his superior bishop, but no action was taken against Smyth and he was able to continue abusing children for a further 20 years.

A separate claim has added to pressure on the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland. A former pupil at St Patrick's College in Cavan is also taking a legal action which is being contested by the cardinal.

The Cavan victim has alleged that he was abused after 1975 at the college when Smyth visited there. The cardinal was a teacher at the same school at the same time.

His spokesman insisted yesterday the cardinal was "completely unaware" that Smyth was ever on the premises.

But Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called for a full investigation into Smyth and the handling of accusations against him by both the church and the State.

"I know it's not fashionable to talk about commissions, but I believe an independent commission to investigate the activities of Brendan Smyth, as to how he was allowed to abuse for so many years -- north and south, church and State," Archbishop Martin said.

"I believe that would be in the public interest."

Former priest Oliver McShane added to the controversy when he said the church tried to cover up his whistleblowing attempt on Smyth which happened back in 1975. Mr McShane has left the priesthood and now lives abroad.

At St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh yesterday, there was surprise that the cardinal did not say Mass. On each of the previous occasions the Smyth controversy has blown up, the cardinal has made a public appearance there.

Yesterday, PP Father Eugene Sweeney asked parishioners for prayers for the church "particularly at this time".

See Mary Kenny

Irish Independent

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