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Cardinal Brady’s defence

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh

In response to the news that he was present in 1975 during an investigation into acts of child abuse by Brendan Smyth, Cardinal Seán Brady, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, has stressed in his statement that he followed the procedure that was in place at the time.

That is really not good enough. He said that he would not have been the appropriate person to have referred the matter to the Gardaí. That probably seems reasonable at the point of the investigation itself. One could imagine that in an analogous circumstance, a school might have a designated person, such as the vice-principal, whose role it would be to refer a matter to the civil authorities, and that another teacher there taking notes during an investigation would let them handle that part of the matter.

But if a teacher in such a position were ever to realize that the matter had not been referred to civil authorities, they would then have a moral duty to determine why, and then to refer the matter themselves. So in the case of the then Fr Seán Brady. He may not have engaged in a direct cover-up, but given that he had heard first-hand the crimes committed, he had the evidence to secure a criminal charge against Brendan Smyth nearly two decades before he was finally convicted. This is in addition to his being party to an investigation that swore two children from telling others of what had been done to them.

Whether he resigns is a matter for the church itself. But he would undermine its credibility in further investigations if we were to stay.

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