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Peter DeRosa: Brady's failure to quit in wake of abuse scandal has left the Church in Ireland looking into the abyss

In November 1997, an ambulance arrived at our Wicklow home to take my wife to Beaumont Hospital for a routine scan. The assistant gently helped her lie down on a bench.

During the journey, I said to him: "In your job you must see quite a few distressing things." He rolled his eyes. The worst was just recently. They'd been called to a prisoner who'd died of a heart attack in the Kildare Jail exercise yard. For some reason, no one had moved the body.

"I looked at my mate," he said, "and he looked at me. And we both said, Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" The dead prisoner was the infamous Fr Brendan Smyth. "He was the most loathsome corpse either of us had ever seen. He made our flesh creep," he said,.

It horrified me to see my wife lying where once that monster had been. What must his victims feel year after year after year?

Smyth continues to be the stuff of nightmares. Thirty-five years ago, a well-educated cleric knew something that others did not. By a word in the ears of a cop, he could have brought the evil deeds of one of the wickedest paedophile priests in the world to a dead halt. He did not utter that word. He felt it was not his duty to. Or, rather, it was his duty not to.

He'd interviews two boys aged 14 and 15. They told him of their sexual abuse at Smyth's hands. He believed them. He not only imposed silence on them, he threatened them with excommunication if they spoke to others about it. He seemed not to mind adding injustice to injustice. To speak even to the Gardai must have seemed to those young boys like breaking the seal of confession. From then on, their quest for justice was impossible.


By an extraordinary quirk of fate, the man who failed to stop this paedophile monster became Primate of All Ireland and the Rome-appointed moral teacher of perhaps the most Catholic nation in the world. It took a pending court case for him to admit what he'd done all those years ago which enabled the fiend to go on abusing for another 18 years.

Legal experts say it was a criminal act under the Offences Against the State Act 1939 to take an oath for the purposes of covering up a crime.

By not reporting the allegations to the only body authorised to investigate, the Gardai, Brady committed a crime called misprision of felony.

American Helen McGonagle was sexually abused by Smyth as were two other victims, her sister who committed suicide and her mother who went insane. Helen says Brady has "unclean hands that are borne by the bloodstains of many victims and victims who have committed suicide or attempted suicide."

Another victim, known only as Samantha, claims she was raped and abused by Smyth for five years from 1974 when she was 13. Two abused girl friends took their own lives. She laments, "If he (Brady) had done something, my life would have been so different."

Brady guarantees the pain of victims will get worse by continuing in office when they have no confidence in him. His clinging to power is as absurd as Herod wanting to be head of the ISPCC.

Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna was recently asked to rate Ireland's loss of credibility due to abuse on a scale of one to five. He said, the situation was catastrophic -- almost a five. Brady's decision not to resign makes it a full five. The Church in Ireland is looking into the abyss.

Peter DeRosa is a theologian and former priest