Damaged cardinal told 'resign with honour' at survivor talks
Cardinal Sean Brady's campaign to stay on as leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland received a major setback last night after abuse victims described him as "a damaged leader".
The embattled cardinal failed to convince three groups of victims during round-table talks that he should carry on as "a wounded healer".
In a brief statement, Dr Brady said the primary purpose of the meetings at his residence in Armagh was to continue listening to views of abuse survivors following Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
Last night, Dublin victim Marie Collins told the Irish Independent that Dr Brady looked "unsettled" and made no comment when she told him that he should resign with "honour and dignity" as part of a complete renewal of the Irish church.
Ms Collins had raised how, in 1975 as a Cavan priest, Dr Brady swore to secrecy two children abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth and did not inform gardai. But she added that she did not get the impression from the cardinal that he was on the verge of stepping down.
Dr Brady wants to wait until May 23, Pentecost Sunday, to decide on his future after consulting priests, friends and victims.
Ms Collins's impression was that Dr Brady had returned to his original response when a newspaper reported his part in a cover-up of Smyth, who went on to abuse children for a further 18 years.
She said that Dr Brady stressed he had been carrying out his bishop's orders and had done his duty rather than highlighting his St Patrick's Day admission that he was "ashamed" of what he had done.
"He looked more the damaged leader than the wounded healer," Ms Collins said. "He was defensive and felt it was unfair for an angry public to call for him to resign."
A further blow to Dr Brady's position came earlier when John Kelly, of the Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) support group, said his impression was that the 70-year-old Primate of All Ireland was "not for this job much longer".
But Mr Kelly warned that it might not be productive if Dr Brady resigned, only to disappear without answering issues the public wanted addressed.
Suggesting that Dr Brady should be judged at a national inquiry, Mr Kelly said: "Let's see what that comes out with that. It may be that his position becomes morally untenable."
Mr Kelly said Dr Brady agreed this body should be independent of the church but was "rather reluctant" when they voiced the feeling that all past files should also be passed on to the agency.
Mr Kelly also said the church was committed to working to find a just solution for victims of the 'Magdalene Laundries' who were denied compensation from the Redress Board because they were "adults" when they had been admitted.
Michael O'Brien, of the Right to Peace group of Clonmel; and Christopher Heaphy, of Right of Place/Second Chance group, said: "The cardinal listened very attentively to us, he wasn't matter-of-fact."