Sunday 19 January 2020

Ruined order in Fr Smyth's wake

Sir -- Jerome Reilly's balanced article on the effect of Fr Brendan Smyth on the Norbertine Order (Sunday Independent, December 4, 2011) described the horrific aftermath of this evil individual, not just on his victims, but on fellow priests who are left with the emotional and financial carnage which this man left behind.

The priests at Kilnacrott Abbey seem to be as traumatised as his victims and are unable to fully comprehend the monster who lived and prayed with them until his death 14 years ago. They remind me of the 'good Germans' after the Second World War -- decent people who could not come to terms with the exposure of the evil of Hitler and the Third Reich.

Yet they also seem unable to disengage from the legalistic machinery of a Church which held canon law as sacrosanct and considered an ordained priest morally superior to other citizens. This was the ideal cover for Fr Smyth and other predators: it allowed them to operate with the knowledge that their criminal activity would never be exposed.

Ireland now ensures that the rule of law extends to abbeys, monasteries and parochial houses. Never again will predator priests have full access to vulnerable people.

Bernard O'Grady,

Muswell Hill, London

Sunday Independent

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