Thursday 12 December 2019

Norbertines admit failures over Smyth

Breda Heffernan

THE religious order to which paedophile priest Brendan Smyth belonged finally broke its silence yesterday to say it is "deeply saddened" at the controversy that has engulfed Cardinal Sean Brady.

The Norbertine Community said it acknowledged its own failures in relation to Smyth and apologised to his victims.

In a statement released on behalf of the community, which is based at the Holy Trinity Abbey, Kilnacrott, Co Cavan, it said Smyth was a member of its congregation during the whole of his priesthood and was subject to the authority of its leadership in all matters concerning his behaviour.

"On many occasions, over several decades, Fr Smyth availed of psychiatric and other forms of treatment. None of these interventions had any effect," the order said.

"It is clear that the only effective means of dealing with a person of his propensity is through the rigour of criminal law."


The community said it again acknowledged its own failure to remove Smyth permanently from the exercise of ministry.

It said it was this failure that had necessitated the actions taken by the late Bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan, in ordering an investigation into Smyth in 1975.

The result of that inquiry was that Smyth was stopped from ministering publicly as a priest in the diocese and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. However, his crimes were not reported to police.

The Norbertine Community apologised to Smyth's victims and said it had taken steps to try and help those he abused.

"We apologise again to each and every person who was abused at any time by Fr Smyth, to their families, and to the many others who suffered through these events.

"We apologise also for our failures to Cardinal Brady, to Bishop Leo O'Reilly and to the congregation and friends who have continued to support us here at the Abbey."

However, one of Smyth's victims, Sam Adair, rejected the Norbertine apology.

"Those responsible at the Abbey are only really serving themselves. . . an apology doesn't do anything for a victim. There's no point in running someone over with a car and then apologising for it," he said.

"They moved this priest on to America and Rhode Island and such places where more victims were available. . . it's hard to understand why criminal charges aren't brought upon these people."

Irish Independent

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