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By Mary Regan
July 21, 2012
It was one of the darkest chapters in the history of the State and now a memorial called Journey of Light will be built to remember survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse.
Based beside the historical Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, it will feature steel plates to symbolise industrial schools where abuse took place, with water cascading over to represent the healing process.
The State’s apology will be inscribed in the wall, in both English and Irish, at child’s eye level and separately in Braille on a bronze plaque.
The design, by Studio Negri, and Hennessy & Associates, was chosen from 32 entries and announced yesterday by Ruairi Quinn, the education minister.
He said it will serve as “a constant reminder that we must never let such horrendous crimes against children happen again”.
The memorial, he said, “will act as a testimony to one of the darkest chapters in our State’s history and what we collectively as a society allow to happen to vulnerable children”.
Christine Buckley, who has spent years seeking justice for abuse victims, said she suggested the memorial during the Ryan Commission hearings into clerical abuse.
She said the fact that the Ryan report recommended its construction demonstrates that the voices of victims had been listened to.
“I can’t wait to bring my children and I can’t wait, if I have grandchildren, to bring them there,” Ms Buckley said.
“You don’t even have to go down the road of talking about the horrors. It will be there, the apology, it’s in stone, and I think it’s terribly, terribly important for the healing process.”
Not all survivors were as happy with the memorial.
John Kelly, of Survivors of Child Abuse, believes the initiative is premature and insensitive to former residents of the Magdalene laundries who have not been included in the redress scheme.
Mr Quinn said an inquiry to examine the State’s role in alleged abuse in the laundries will have concluded by the time the memorial is built.
“These matters are being looked at. But I don’t think, quite frankly, that we should await that process for this project to commence,” Mr Quinn said.
He criticised the lack of progress being made by the Church orders in meeting their contribution to compensation for victims, which is expected to reach €1.5bn. “It is very slow and it is very unsatisfactory,” he said.
While Mr Quinn said the Government has “no wish to bankrupt” religious orders, “they do own substantial educational and health infrastructure. And they could hand over the title deeds of that infrastructure so that the State would be the ultimate owner of them.”
Planning permission for the memorial will be submitted in September, and is expected to take two years to build at a cost of €500,000.
26 May 2012
**OF COURSE the bishops under Benedict would adopt this reprehensible guideline. Benedict himself has done nothing for years and years besides sweep clerical abuse under the rug.
The Italian Bishop’s Conference (CIE) has issued guidelines on child protection that inform its bishops that they are ‘not obliged to report illicit facts’ of child abuse to the police.
The new guidelines were released recently after the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith advised every Bishop Conference to create a document covering Child Protection if they did not already have one.
One of the conferences that was void of such documentation was the CEI which works under Pope Benedict XVI.
In their new five page document which advised Italian Bishops on how to deal with paedophilia they failed to focus on one of the most important and obvious means of combating the crime – informing police authorities.
Instead the document read: “Under Italian law, the bishop, given that he holds no public office nor is he a public servant, is not obliged to report illicit facts of the type covered by this document to the relevant state judicial authorities.”
In response to the documentation US Abuse Victims’ Group Snap told the Irish Times: “Once again the Catholic Church hierarchy has missed the boat . . . These prelates had a chance to do more than the bare minimum and thus set a good example for their colleagues around the world by putting the safety of children first and foremost, but they chose instead to put the reputation of the church first.”
8 May 2012
‘John’ (who wishes to remain anonymous), his sister, and cousins could have been spared years of sexual abuse had Cardinal Sean Brady told John’s parents or police about Fr Brendan Smyth’s depraved activities when they were revealed by whistle-blower Brendan Boland.
Now living on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, John (52) is still tortured by the past and wants Cardinal Brady to resign immediately. He tells his story to Suzanne Breen.
He was like the pied piper. Father Brendan Smyth always arrived in our street with a lot of razzmatazz. He’d step out of his car, with a pocket full of sweets for us kids.
He was an outgoing, jovial man. He was forever engaging is horseplay with children. There was nothing sinister about him. Our parents had no reason to be suspicious. But he wore a mask. The most poisonous person imaginable lay under the friendly façade.
Smyth started sexually abusing me in 1970 when I was 10 years old. The abuse continued until I was 16. By that age, I knew what he was doing was evil. When he called at our house then, I’d get on my bike and ride up into the hills. I’d stay there hours until he was gone.
Smyth was a long-time family friend. He’d known my parents years before I was born. So when he asked to take me and some other boys away on trips, they thought it was a great idea.
The Troubles were in full flow in the North. We lived in West Belfast. There were shootings, bombings, hijackings and riots every day. My mother and father were delighted the priest was taking me away from all that madness for a few days.
He’d take me and other lads down South – to Dundalk, Dublin, Cavan or Cork. That’s where he raped us. My parents breathed a sigh of relief when I left in Fr Smyth’s car. They thought I’d be safe with him, away from the violent streets of Belfast.
There was no point in saying I didn’t want to go. I’d have been accused of being ungrateful. Had I said Smyth was abusing me, my parents would just have thought it was a crazy excuse to get out of the trips. I thought nobody would believe me. A priest was respected. You were told to be quiet when he was in the house. So I said nothing about the abuse.
The abuse affected my behaviour hugely. I wasn’t a normal young boy mucking around with his mates. I was a loner. I never made any close friends. I kept other lads at a distance. My mother worried about that. She wanted me to build friendships.
And I hated PE at school. I was always asking my parents to write notes excusing me from it. Boys normally love sport. But I didn’t want to go into the showers with the other lads. I wanted to keep my body parts private. I didn’t want anybody to see them.
I left school early without as many qualifications as I should have got. And I left home at the first chance possible. I moved into digs in another part of the city when I was 17. I just wanted to get away from our family home – the house Smyth visited. I was trying to escape but of course the abuse was always there in my head, haunting me.
Within a year, I started living with a girl. Fr Smyth heard about this from my parents. He wasn’t happy. He said we should be married and sent us on a ‘marriage encounter weekend’ run by the church. There, we were told to name a date for our wedding.
I never should have got married. I was in no state to commit to a wife but I just went along with it to keep my family happy. Smyth married us. It was sickening. My wedding day was the last time I saw him.
My marriage lasted only two years which isn’t surprising. I was a ball of anger, mostly I was angry at myself. I wasn’t stable in my mind. I drank heavily.
Sexual abuse doesn’t just affect the person abused. It has a ripple effect. It touches everybody around the victim. All my adult life, I’ve struggled to have relationships. I suffered mood swings. I’d be sullen or silent for long periods. Other times I’d just take off, disappear for days. And that doesn’t go down well with women. I wasn’t easy to live with.
I left Ireland in the 1980s. I moved to London and went back to college. I got qualifications and a good job I enjoyed in TV production. I met a girl and in 1988 I got married over there. It lasted five months. I’ve had other relationships with women since but after one broke up in 1993, I decided I’d never live with a woman again. I have to accept it just doesn’t work for me.
In 1989, my older brother Paul asked if Smyth had abused me. I told him he had. Paul said Smyth had abused him too and he was worried because the priest was still hanging around our family and was close to our four young cousins.
Paul confronted Smyth. At first he denied abusing us, then he became nasty. “And what are you going to do about it?” he smirked. Paul contacted the police and Smyth went on the run. We later found out he had abused my four cousins and my sister.
He was caught and charged by the RUC but he went on the run again. My family went to see Cardinal Cahal Daly to ask him if the church could help find Smyth and also to get answers as to how the priest had got away with decades of abuse. Cardinal Daly kept my family waiting two hours before he saw them. He was a very arrogant, uncaring man. He treated them like dirt.
Smyth was convicted of 74 charges of child abuse in 1997. Why during that court case didn’t Sean Brady come forward and disclose that he’d personally known about Smyth’s abuse since 1975? Why didn’t he put that information into the public arena?
A few months ago, BBC journalist Darragh McIntrye arrived at my mother’s door looking for me. Darragh revealed that in 1975, Brendan Boland had given Sean Brady – and two other priests who were part of a church inquiry into Smyth – my name and the name of other children abused by him.
I was distraught at this news. Sean Brady had our names and addresses and had done nothing. Had he contacted my parents or the police, he could have saved me from a further year of abuse and Smyth would never have been able to lay a finger on my sister or cousins.
Sean Brady behaved shamefully. A man of his calibre had the knowledge and authority to take action. He wasn’t a rookie priest just out of the seminary. He was a middle-aged man, a teacher, and a canon lawyer.
Brady says he didn’t act because he referred the matter to others higher up in the church and it was for them to deal with. It’s a very weak excuse. It reminds me of the guards in the Nazi concentration camps who said they were only following orders and were to low down the pecking order to help.
If a child in Sean Brady’s classroom misbehaved, he wouldn’t have referred the matter up the chain of command. He’d have called the parents to the school to talk to them. Yet a priest rapes children and Sean Brady doesn’t contact their parents?
Why did Brady swear Brendan Boland, a 14-year-old boy, to secrecy? Brendan was ordered not to speak about the abuse to anybody except priests. This wasn’t to protect children, it was to protect the church as an institution.
Brady wasn’t involved in a genuine inquiry. It was only an information gathering exercise by the church to find out who knew what.
Why wasn’t Brendan allowed to bring his father into that meeting? Had the RUC taken a 14-year-old boy to the barracks for questioning and denied him access to his parents, there’d have been uproar and rightly so.
At the meeting, Brendan was asked filthy, dirty questions like had he ever had an erection when Smyth abused him him, did he ejaculate, did he do these things with other boys. What sort of minds ask a vulnerable boy those questions?
I’ve watched Sean Brady on TV in recent days trying to look calm and collected yet emotional. It seems very rehearsed to me. I want him to face the horrible, gritty truth – to witness the trail of devastation his inaction caused.
I told my mother, a very religious woman and daily mass-goer, not to watch the BBC programme. But she did. The next morning, she was in a terrible state. She was in bed crying and said she didn’t want to go to Mass. She felt guilty for not protecting me.
She said she remembered Smyth pulling up at our house with Brendan Boland in the car and her sending me out to him. She’s no reason to be guilty. She acted in total innocence. I want Sean Brady to see the pitiful sight of a woman in her 80s torturing herself about her son’s abuse.
And yet the Cardinal, who has every reason to feel guilty, displays no such sentiment. He should examine his conscience and publicly admit that his inaction was wrong. He must also resign immediately. He has no credibility left. Clergy like him who knew of these historic cases carry too much baggage. They have a suitcase of excuses about what they did and didn’t do that doesn’t ring true.
I wasn’t just robbed of my childhood, I was robbed of my faith. I still can’t go back to Mass. We, the victims, continue to suffer because those like Brady who made wrong decisions selfishly cling to their positions and won’t resign.
The church today makes all the right noises on abuse but, at heart, it really hasn’t changed at all. Why hasn’t one priest or bishop criticised Cardinal Brady? Had a political leader acted like he did, there’d be calls from the party backbenches for him to resign. Yet there’s a deadly silence through the ranks of the Catholic Church.
Resign, Cardinal Brady. Give those of us who have suffered so much pain a bit of peace. We’re already serving a life sentence but by admitting you did wrong and stepping down, you’d ease our ordeal. While you cling to power, our torment is all the worse.
This article appeared in the May 6, 2012 edition of the Sunday World.
5 May 2012
**Poster’s note: Read this whole article so you can understand that allowing Catholic clerical administrator types to ‘police’ themselves is a big joke. All of these people who knew what was going on and still allowed it need to be prosecuted and jailed.
IT BEGGARS belief that, following what was discovered about Fr Brendan Smyth’s abuse of children at two 1975 church inquiries, the bishop of Kilmore diocese, Francis McKiernan, would have restored to the priest his right to hear Confession and say Mass publicly there.
Those faculties were removed following the inquiry conducted by then Fr Seán Brady, Fr Francis Donnelly and Fr Oliver McShane with 14-year-old Brendan Boland in Dundalk on March 29th, 1975. He told them of his abuse and that of five other young people by Smyth.
On April 4th, 1975, Fr Brady interviewed a 15-year-old boy at the parochial house in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, concerning his abuse by Smyth. He was one of five young people whose names and addresses had been given by Brendan Boland at that inquiry in Dundalk. Four of those were never spoken to by any priest, nor were their parents. Nor were the parents of the 15-year-old boy interviewed by Fr Brady in Ballyjamesduff.
We now know, following last Tuesday’s BBC This World documentary, that Smyth continued to abuse another boy, who was on the list supplied by Boland to the priests, until 1976, that boy’s sister until 1982 and four cousins of theirs, members of one family in Belfast, until 1988.
While it might be argued that none of this was known to bishop McKiernan at the time, or to his secretary Fr Brady, that is simply because they did not try to find out. This is incomprehensible, as it would be imagined that before restoring any priest’s faculties in such a context there would be an anxiety to ensure he was no longer abusing young people. Smyth continued to do so until 1993.
But even prior to 1975, evidence existed at Kilnacrott Abbey, where Smyth was based, that would have justified much earlier and more sustained action by the diocese where he was concerned. As reported by the UTV Counterpoint, Suffer the Children programme in September 1994, and repeated by Kilnacrott abbot Fr Gerard Cusack yesterday, there had long been awareness there of Smyth’s paedophile activities.
On that programme the then abbot at Kilnacrott, Fr Kevin Smith, said that, beginning in 1968, they had sought various treatments for Smyth.
Of these, abbot Smith said,“in time it became apparent” that they were not effective. He continued: “Fr Smyth’s behaviour had perplexed and troubled our community over many years. We always hoped that a combination of treatment, Fr Smyth’s intelligence and the grace of God would enable Fr Smyth to overcome the compulsive nature of his disorder.”
He admitted that on the two occasions Smyth was sent to parishes in the US, the bishops there were not informed “of his propensity to molest children” – which he also did in the US.
In his Shannonside Northern Sound interview yesterday, Fr Cusack said they had sent Smyth for treatment many times. They had “conferred with professionals” who had used “aversion techniques”, which were “not effective in this case”.
Then, in 1973, they sent Smyth to St Patrick’s psychiatric hospital in Dublin and, in 1974 to a centre at Stroud in England that dealt with abuser priests. In 1989 he was referred to a consultant in Dublin. Abbot Cusack recalled that Smyth had been “very difficult to deal with”.
At the request of The Irish Times, the current Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O’Reilly, is checking records to establish when his predecessor restored to Smyth faculties to say Mass publicly and hear Confessions. If it happened before 1980, when bishop McKiernan’s secretary, Fr Brady, became vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome, the primate’s troubles will intensify greatly.
4 May 2012
THE TÁNAISTE has called on Cardinal Seán Brady to resign and said the rape or abuse of a child was a crime in the past as it was now.
Eamon Gilmore said that he had always believed in the separation of church and State.
“It is the job of the Government and the State to enact our laws and ensure they apply to everybody, whether they belong to a church.
“But it is my own personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority.”
Mr Gilmore said what was reported in a BBC documentary was “another horrific episode in the failure of senior figures in the Catholic Church to protect children and report the abuse and rape of children”.
He added: “The rape and abuse of a child is a crime, and it was a crime then. The place for crimes to be investigated, prosecuted and dealt with is in the courts and by the Garda.”
Mr Gilmore said he did not believe there was a parallel system of law which dealt with those matters. “Anybody who has or had knowledge about the rape or abuse of a child has or had a duty to report it to the authorities.”
Mr Gilmore said that whatever might be said about it occurring in 1975, whatever number of years ago and in whatever context, there had been plenty of opportunities since for the information on the abuse and rape of those children to be brought to the attention of the Garda.
Mr Gilmore said the Government was putting in place much stronger rules and regulations in respect of responsibility to children. There would be a statutory obligation on organisations and named individuals to report information on abuse or significant neglect to the HSE. Withholding information on sexual abuse would be deemed a criminal offence.
The Tánaiste was replying to Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who said the documentary represented “another shocking chapter in a sad litany of which we are only too well aware from reading reports such as the Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports”.
He said the Tánaiste’s forthright reply contrasted starkly with the Taoiseach’s reaction when he was asked about the issue on Wednesday.
Mr O’Dea said while Mr Kenny had made a speech in the Dáil last July, which had been widely lauded, he had refused to take the same position of the Tánaiste in the aftermath of the documentary. It was easy to look brave in the abstract.
Mr Gilmore said there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind about where the Taoiseach stood on the issue. Mr O’Dea should not attempt to turn a serious issue into some kind of “political whack at the Taoiseach”.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she welcomed “the clarity and forthrightness” of the Tánaiste’s response.
With the scandal involving Cardinal Sean Brady, I think it is important for people to realise that there is no hope for placing any faith in the Catholic hierarchy to bring anyone to justice over the issue of child sexual exploitation by priests. Anyone who has access to Google and the internet can easily research the past popes’ roles themselves in covering up this matter. If the current Pope Benedict is guilty of this, which he is, then how do you expect the Vatican to take care of things?
It’s not going to happen.
4 May 2012
“I have had such a bad experience with priests that I can’t talk to any of them”- Brendan Boland yesterday with his wife Martina. (Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker)
VICTIM’S REACTION: THE “PENNY dropped” for Brendan Boland when he was just shy of his 14th birthday at Christmas 1974. The paedophile priest Brendan Smyth had been sexually abusing him for two to three years at that stage.
Smyth had brought him, a Belfast boy and three girls to a Wombles concert in Dublin. Afterwards Smyth shared a room with the two boys, who also featured in this week’s BBC programme. First he abused Mr Boland, then he signalled the other boy to come to his bed.
“I was lying listening to what was going on. And I said to myself, ‘This is not going to happen again, I have got to do something. I don’t like what’s going on here’. That’s when the penny dropped for me.”
Mr Boland spoke to The Irish Times in a hotel in Belfast with his wife Martina by his side. “She’s a rock,” he said.
He is unimpressed with the response so far of Cardinal Seán Brady. “I think at the moment he has no moral authority.”
Mr Boland works in London as an engineer for another man in the news these days, Rupert Murdoch, ensuring that the presses that print the Sun, London Times and other newspapers run sweetly.
This isn’t the only trauma to befall him and his family. His 17-year-old son Stephen was killed in a car crash in 2003 in England. “I had a lot of guilt over Stephen’s death. At that time I had my [compensation] case . . . and I blamed it on that, that this is punishment for me [for] standing up to Seán Brady and going against the church. I felt that it had something to do with that,” he explained.
“People have said to me, that’s a crazy idea. But you have to be in my shoes to understand how I think sometimes.”
Cardinal Brady “is not fit for the job he is in; he should never have taken that job. Surely he should have realised that the information would come back and haunt him some day”, Mr Boland believes
Cardinal Brady has complained about elements of the programme, particularly the suggestion he was an investigator with the three-member canonical inquiry team that interviewed Brendan Boland in 1975 – rather than a notetaker, as the Catholic primate has asserted. “Everything in that programme was fact; we were very very careful in the way we did it . . . in my eyes he was the investigator,” said Mr Boland
Neither does the chain of command defence work with him: that Cardinal Brady fulfilled his duty by passing on the facts to his superiors and Smyth’s Norbertine order and that it was up to the Norbertines to stop Smyth.
Bottom line, as far as Mr Boland is concerned, is that he supplied names and addresses of children who were abused by Smyth to the inquiry team, and it was never passed on to their parents or the Garda or RUC. That resulted in two more boys being abused by Smyth, including the Belfast boy. Worse, Smyth subsequently abused the sister of that boy for seven years and also his four first cousins.
Neither does he accept suggestions that 1975 was a different time when there were no church or civil guidelines for handling such situations. Cardinal Brady should have contacted the parents, he said. “I was only 14 years of age, I knew it was wrong.”
Mr Boland has high praise for one of the three priests on the inquiry team to whom he initially reported the abuse in 1975. When he told the priest, who ran a youth club in Dundalk, he immediately brought him home to his parents and informed them.
“My father actually got sick. He had to go out to the garden and get physically sick.”
The experience is still having a huge impact on his father Frank, now aged 89. He was present in the building when his son was interviewed and sworn to secrecy by the inquiry team, but he was not allowed be with Brendan for that questioning.
“He just took it as ‘Yeah, okay, this is the way’.” He added: “My father is happy that this has come out now but he is also devastated. He’s thinking that he did not do enough. He’s saying to me, ‘you’re saying Seán Brady should have done this and that; well, I should have done this, I should have done that’. He is riddled with guilt.
“I have tried to reassure him. I have said I am not taking you away from your religion. The last thing I would want him is to lose his faith, and he hasn’t lost his faith . . .
“I have lost my faith in the people who preach it, but I still have my belief in God. I know that God is for all good, that there is no way he would punish you for destroying evil.
“But I have no time for priests. I have had such a bad experience with priests that I can’t talk to any of them. I know there are some good ones, but I can’t tell who is good and who is not good.”
He is still angry at the excruciatingly intimate nature of the questioning that he was subjected to – which Cardinal Brady acknowledged was “intrusive” – being asked had he had such experiences before, did “seed” come from his body, did he know what an erection was.
Mr Boland still has a sense of humour. “I did not know what an erection was.” And he laughs at his innocence. “Imagine saying that to some 14-year-old today!”
He said he was “really scared” about getting involved in the documentary.
“But the programme helped me because I was overwhelmed by the support of the Irish people. It is just incredible. It was really comforting. I feel good now.”
By Claire O’Sullivan
May 04, 2012
Specialist detectives are reviewing claims that Cardinal Sean Brady knew in 1975 that five children were being abused by one of the country’s most dangerous paedophiles, Fr Brendan Smyth.
A senior police chief in the North said a decision on whether to launch a full-scale investigation into the claims levelled against Cardinal Brady would not be taken until all evidence was assessed.
Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable George Hamilton said a specialist team already investigating alleged institutional abuse in the region was reviewing the BBC documentary to see if there was prima facie evidence that an offence had taken place.
He said officers would “do the right thing” based on where the evidence led them.
“For the last number of months there has been an investigation ongoing under an operation called Operation Charwell into alleged institutional abuse and this is really the context in which we will examine the material that was made available through the BBC documentary,” he said.
“Before we launch into an investigation or make knee-jerk responses to that, we will take an objective, evidence-based assessment of the material that was in that programme.”
Mr Hamilton said he would not comment on whether the police had plans to interview Cardinal Brady.
The officer confirmed that the offence of withholding information was on the statute in Northern Ireland in 1975 but said it had not yet been established whether the documentary provided prima facie evidence that the law had been broken.
Senior politicians on both sides of the border yesterday came out strongly against Cardinal Brady remaining in his position at the helm of the Catholic Church in Ireland given his role in failing to protect the children named as likely abuse victims of Brendan Smyth.
The beleaguered cardinal vowed to remain as Primate of All-Ireland despite renewed attacks on him over accounts he has given of his role in interviewing two of Smyth’s young victims.
Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore said clerics who did not act at to protect children should resign.
“It is my personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse that we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority,” Mr Gilmore said.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn called for the resignation of the cardinal because of his position as the most senior cleric of a Church which is patron of 92% of the 3,200 primary schools in Ireland.
The North’s First Minister Martin McGuinness said he had first urged the cardinal to consider his position two years ago when details of the secret inquiry first emerged. He repeated these calls yesterday.
“Speaking personally, I believe he should reflect on the wisdom of this position which will leave many Catholics wondering whether anything is to be done by the leadership of the Catholic Church to ring the changes many believe are required at such a sad time for all,” he said.
Fianna Fáil leader, Michael Martin said the cardinal should consider his position, given the enormity and scale of the abuse perpetrated by Smyth.
“I think his authority has been very seriously undermined with what has happened,” Mr Martin said.
In the 1975 internal church inquiry Brendan Boland, a then 14-year-old, told investigators that at least five children had been attacked by Smyth.
The cardinal claimed his role was as notary and to submit a report and he blamed superiors in the Church for failing to stop the evil priest abusing over the next 20 years.
By Andy Martin
1 May 2012
**Poster’s note: If these claims concerning Brady are true, then not only should he be hauled down off his pompous high horse as cardinal, but he should be tried, convicted and jailed for aiding in the sexual abuse of children. How dare he stand up before people and say he won’t resign. It should be out of his dirty hands, and also the dirty hands of his supporting superiors who knew what happend, including Pope Benedict, who is just as guilty of covering up clerical sexual abuse of children.
**Abuse victim’s video story onsite
Cardinal Sean Brady became Primate of all-Ireland in 1996
Cardinal Brady became the Catholic Primate of all-Ireland in 1996, but the appointment that may define his career was made 21 years earlier.
As a Bishop’s secretary in 1975, he was tasked with investigating a complaint of sexual abuse made against a fellow priest, the man who would later be exposed as Ireland’s most prolific paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth.
The manner in which he handled that internal church inquiry has come under intense scrutiny in a BBC ‘This World’ investigation.
John B Brady was born near Laragh, County Cavan in 1939, one of three children.
He attended St Patrick’s College in Cavan before entering the seminary at Maynooth.
On his ordination he returned to Cavan to teach in his old school, and acted as a part-time secretary to the Bishop of Kilmore, the late Bishop Francis McKiernan.
It was in this role that he was asked to deal with the allegations against Brendan Smyth.
A child from Belfast, 14-year-old Brendan Boland, had been taken by Smyth on numerous trips around Ireland.
His deeply-religious parents believed it a privilege to have their son looked so favourably upon by a priest.
In fact Smyth was driving the boy and other children to various guesthouses, where he subjected them to sustained sexual abuse.
When Brendan Boland summoned the courage to tell a local priest about the abuse, that priest immediately drove him to his parents’ home.
When his father heard about what his son had endured, he ran into the garden and vomited.
The same priest then drove the boy to tell Smyth’s superior, the Bishop of Kilmore.
At his house in Cavan the allegation was levelled, and an internal Church investigation ordered.
Cardinal Brady’s part in that Clerical inquiry remained secret until March 2010.
Following two major and damning reports into the handling of clerical abuse in Ireland, it emerged that Ireland’s most senior Catholic Priest had himself been involved in a process in which sex abuse was kept from the civil authorities.
At the time Cardinal Brady described his role in the Brendan Smyth investigation as that of a “note-taker”.
He and two other priests questioned Brendan Boland at length, and were keen to point out that his parents had accompanied the child to the interview.
What actually happened during that inquiry has now been exposed by reporter Darragh McIntyre, who has uncovered the full extent of Cardinal Brady’s involvement.
McIntyre has seen the hand-written notes made and signed by “Father John B Brady” during the course of the interview with Brendan Boland.
Many people will find the nature of the questions put to the child to be shocking.
While it is true that the abused boy’s father travelled with him to the interview, he was not allowed inside the room while his son was questioned.
Nor did Brendan Boland feel able to tell his father about what had taken place, as he was sworn to secrecy, upon the Bible, before leaving.
The Cardinal was interviewed about his role in the affair when it came to light in 2010.
When questioned he said, “I think I would resign” if it emerged that anything he had done had allowed the abuse of children to continue.
He claimed that he had “acted effectively to establish the grounds to remove Brendan Smyth”.
However, McIntyre’s BBC investigation reveals that the teenage victim, Brendan Boland, had also told the then Father Brady and his colleagues, about other children who were being abused by Smyth.
He even furnished the investigating priest and his colleagues with their names and addresses.
Father Brady interviewed one of those boys, who corroborated each of Brendan Boland’s claims before being sworn to secrecy.
Father Brady however, failed to inform any parent of the children in the group that they had been abused. Nor were the police told of Smyth’s crimes against them.
The result was that Brendan Smyth remained free to abuse another boy identified by Brendan Boland.
His sister and four cousins also remained exposed to Smyth, who continued to attack them over the course of the following 13 years.
Sean Brady may have been selected for the investigation of the matter because he was a Canon lawyer. In the years that followed, his career within the Church went from strength to strength.
In 1980, he was appointed Vice-Rector of the Irish College in Rome, becoming Rector in 1987.
He then returned to Ireland to become the Parish Priest of Castletara, in County Cavan.
In 1995, he was ordained Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, and a year later succeeded Cardinal Cahal Daly, to become Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all-Ireland.
In 2007, the current Pope Benedict announced that Archbishop Brady was to be made a Cardinal.
There has only been one previous occasion on which a Cardinal has been forced to resign over the issue of clerical sexual abuse.
In 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law was forced to step down as Archbishop of Boston. He was however, subsequently made the archpriest of one of Rome’s most important basilicas.
The Catholic Church has said that the “sole purpose of the oath” signed by Brendan Boland in Cardinal Brady’s presence was “To give greater force and integrity to the evidence given by Mr Boland against any counter claim by Fr Brendan Smyth”.
The Church also points out that in 1975 “no State or Church guidelines for responding to allegations of child abuse existed in Ireland.”
April 28 2012
A high-profile Irish priest censured by the Vatican for his writings has warned that the creation of a “veil of secrecy” worked against efforts to prevent clerical child abuse.
Father Brian D’Arcy, a broadcaster and newspaper columnist, said he had not challenged church doctrine but was censured for articles on a number of issues, including criticism of the church response to sex abuse scandals.
The priest, from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, who is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster and writes a religious column for the Dublin-based Sunday World newspaper, was censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Father D’Arcy, 67, said he was told 14 months ago of the disciplinary action which means he must submit his writings and broadcasts to an official censor. News of the episode only emerged publicly over recent days. He said the sanction was prompted over a complaint about a headline on an article he had written, a letter on homosexuality he had published in his column, plus his fierce criticism of the church’s handling of child abuse scandals in Ireland.
He said: “One of them was that I was critical of the Vatican, in particular the Pope, about views on how the sexual abuse of children should be handled, and that I seemed to be pointing that all the blame was going back to Rome,” he said. “Now I never said all the blame was going back to Rome, but if we’re honest about it, I think some must go back to Rome. And that is a sort of self-obvious fact. How can anybody be criticised for saying a self-obvious fact?
“I must also take responsibility as a man who lived through this – and in some cases lived with men who abused and didn’t see it – God you know, that’s what keeps me awake at night now I have to say. This is where the secrecy, the non-questioning mind – and therefore anybody that speaks out at all is bound to be silenced or gagged, or whatever word you want to use, censured is the word I prefer – if you go back to that, no matter what other structures you put up around the protection of children, it won’t work.
“Any system depends on the integrity of the person carrying out the system. And if the person carrying out the system is afraid to talk about ‘that, or that, or question why about that’, then the secrecy veil comes in again, and children will not be protected.”
He added: “I speak strongly about this and I will make no apologies. I don’t mean it to be an offence to anybody when I say this, but if people expect me, who was abused twice in my life, to be silent about issues and about the protection of children, I can’t do that.”
Father D’Arcy, a member of the Passionist Order, who has also criticised mandatory celibacy for priests, spoke out in an interview on Ireland’s RTE radio. Messages sent to the Marian Finucane radio show were mainly in support of the priest, but one member of the public left a message asking if Father D’Arcy had forgotten his duty of obedience to the Catholic Church.
The clergyman recalled what he said was the “greatest sin” of his life, when as a novice he was ordered by a superior to cut down 20 cherry trees because the senior figure did not like them. But the trainee priest was challenged the next day by the gardener who was upset by the destruction, since he had planted the trees 15 years before. Father D’Arcy said: “I was obedient to the letter, and committed a sin. Obedience is not blind.”
18 Apr 2012
A PRIEST removed from ministry in California after sexual abuse allegations told his bishop he was returning to Ireland, a statement from a US diocese said yesterday.
Fr Michael Kelly of the Stockton diocese was removed from ministry by the diocese on April 6th after a civil jury found against him in a case alleging sexual abuse in the 1980s, the diocese said. Fr Kelly has denied the allegations.
The priest left in the midst of the second part of a civil trial. Fr Kelly was “in the midst of the civil trial in which he is a defendant”, Bishop Blaire of the diocese of Stockton said yesterday. “I was stunned to receive a letter from Fr Michael Kelly informing me he had returned to Ireland,” the bishop said.
“I have tried to reach Fr Kelly by email and by phone to implore him to return and see the trial through to its completion,” he said.
Fr Kelly wrote in a letter to the bishop dated Sunday and released by the diocese: “By the time you read this letter I will be in Ireland with my family. I am sorry for any difficulty this may cause the diocese, but my health can’t take it anymore.”
He added: “I have sat back and listened to the vicious false allegations that have been spread about me for the past four and a half years, and my health has suffered greatly because of it. . .
“I have spent the last 39 years of my life serving God and the people of the various parishes of the diocese of Stockton. I hope you will understand that right now I need to be with my family, whose support and love for me is unconditional.”
By JEROME REILLY
April 08 2012
**I will be so glad to see Benedict/Ratzinger and his bent cronies leave the Church hierarchy some day.
THE Redemptorist priest who has been silenced by Rome for publicly backing Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s broadside against the Vatican’s handling of child sex abuse allegations is a brother of leading Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery.
The censure of Fr Tony Flannery has provoked a storm of anger among fellow clergy and lay organisations.
Fr Flannery was censured by the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which first contacted the Redemptorist Order in Rome with an order that he no longer be allowed to write in the Irish Order’s influential magazine Reality or on the Association of Irish Priests’ website, of which he is a founding member.
He is also banned from talking to the media.
Fr Flannery visited Rome to argue his case after the rebuke two months ago.
Yesterday, Fr Adrian Egan, who heads the order’s Mount St Alphonsus monastery in Limerick, strongly defended Fr Flannery in an interview with the Sunday Independent.
Fr Flannery wrote for Reality at the time of Mr Kenny’s unprecedented attack on the church, which culminated in the Government’s closure of the Irish embassy in Rome.
Fr Flannery wrote in the aftermath of the Taoiseach’s address: “I was happy with the Taoiseach’s statement . . . Many of us priests are frustrated with the way the Vatican conducts its business.”
Fr Egan said the punishment of Fr Flannery was due to “a combination of things”.
“It’s about his involvement in the Association of Irish Priests, the things he might have preached about, that many of us have preached about — maybe the connection through his brother to Enda Kenny. I imagine that Tony had no part in that (speech),” Fr Egan said.
Fr Flannery joined the Redemptorist Order in 1964 with his two brothers Frank and Peter. Frank Flannery left before his studies were complete and later became and remains a senior figure in Fine Gael.