Tuesday 10 December 2019

Hurt, humility and arrogance

CARDINAL Brady's dignified and contrite public appeal for time and space to reflect on reaction to his role in the 1975 handling of two abuse cases by a serial paedophile was in contrast to provocative comments by his most vociferous defender, Mgr Maurice Dooley.

Without referring directly to his failure to report Brendan Smyth to the civil authorities, Cardinal Brady expressed his shame and did apologise to those who had been hurt by "any" failure on his part.

His observation that this was a time for deep prayer and much reflection was not well received by one abuse victim, who suggested that the cardinal had already had 35 years to reflect.

Nevertheless, the cardinal's homily showed that he had been doing some thinking.

At around the same time yesterday, Mgr Dooley was asked by a radio interviewer what he would do if a paedophile priest confided his crimes to him today.

Mgr Dooley replied that he would not do anything, that his sole responsibility would be to maintain confidentiality. If he acquired information "not in an area of confidentiality", on the other hand, he would "think seriously" about reporting it. Mgr Dooley has previously, and with some indignation, stated that a person is not legally compelled, under the law of the land, to report a sex abuser to the gardai.

The monsignor is obviously aware that the Misprision of Felony act, under which a person could be charged with withholding information about the rape of a child, was removed from the statute books in 1998.

Interestingly, a few years later, on his last day in office, the then education minister Michael Woods would strike an extraordinarily generous compensation deal with the religious orders.

It will be remembered that the government agreed with 18 religious orders to cap their total compensation for abuse carried out by their members at just €128m.

Mgr Dooley seems oblivious to the dismay and annoyance his canonical outbursts provoke. For a man who has stated that it is not a priest's job to "go blabbing" to the gardai and who sees merit in abused children being bound to oaths of silence, he does a great deal of talking himself.

With friends like that . . . Cardinal Brady may need even more time for reflection.

Irish Independent

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