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Andrew Lynch: Why Brady must resign if Church wants to survive

When Sean Brady was just a humble priest at the Irish College in Rome during 1990's World Cup, he got to introduce Pope John Paul II to the Irish football team, a group of players whose famous motto was 'Put 'em under pressure!'



This weekend, Cardinal Brady is facing pressure of a very different kind -- because assuming he has read the devastating Cloyne Report, he must surely feel morally obliged to resign as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

REPUTATION

As we all know by now, the latest investigation into clerical sex abuse has torn Bishop John Magee's reputation to shreds.

However, nobody who has been following this scandal should feel one bit surprised.

As long ago as December 2008, it became clear that the Bishop of Cloyne had left children in terrible danger by refusing to hand over the names of alleged abusers in his diocese to the Garda Siochana.

So why was Sean Brady initially so anxious to see Magee keep his job?

He described him as "a dependable and reliable" man who should stay in place to ensure proper child protection guidelines were put in place.

For the boys and girls who suffered in silence while the bishop sat on his hands, this was a terrible error of judgment -- and although Brady later played a role in forcing Magee to step aside, the damage was already done.

Brady has this week condemned what happened in Cloyne as "deplorable and totally unacceptable", but failed to explain why he originally gave Magee his blessing.

In fact, we don't have to look too hard for an explanation -- because when it comes to giving clerics the benefit of the doubt, the Cardinal has applied the same low standards to himself.

Last year, Brady was accused of playing a small but crucial role in covering up crimes committed by the most notorious priest rapist in Irish history.

SILENCE

A victim of the late Brendan Smyth alleged that in 1975, Brady used his position as a canon lawyer to persuade a 14-year-old girl and an altar boy to sign an oath of silence.

By his own admission, he believed that the children were telling the truth -- but he still did absolutely nothing to inform the Gardai.

When this became public, Brady asked to be given time to reflect on his position.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, he announced a couple of months later that he would not to quit.

With the support of Pope Benedict, he was given a second chance -- but God himself would struggle to explain why he should be given a third.

Everybody who knows Sean Brady describes him as a kind and decent man.

In some ways, that makes his sins even worse.

If such an obviously holy priest could become corrupted by the culture of secrecy and fear within the Church, it's hardly surprising that so many perverts took advantage of it as well.

Martin McGuinness once described Brady as "the most humble priest ever to become a cardinal".

We need to see a bit more of that humility now.

If the Catholic Church in Ireland is to survive, the old guard must be cleared away.

And that process should begin with Cardinal Brady resigning. He should do it this weekend.


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