Cardinal Sean Brady and Pope Benedict should resign. Will they? No!

In 1975, Cardinal Sean Brady interviewed a 10 year old boy and a 14 year old girl who had been sex abused by Fr Brendan Smyth of Cavan. He believed them and reported to his bishop. Sean Brady bound the two kids to secrecy through an oath. The abusive priest continued for 20 years Neither the Gardai or the Health Board were not informed. Questions on this issue include what adult(s) brought this abuse to the notice of the Church superiors? Were the children interviewed separately? The answer is likely to be yes! Then Fr Brady must have had time to think about the moral obligation he had as a citizen to make sure that a probable criminal was reported to the police. Did Fr Brady ask, suggest or request his Bishop McKiernan that the criminal law be applied to Fr Smyth. Any normal adult is repulsed by child sex abuse. Did he make enquiries that appropriate care be offered to the abused children given that he says that he believed their stories? At the time, Fr Brady appears to have had knowledge of previous sex abuse by Fr Smyth at the time he interviewed these children. If so, he was very much obliged as a citizen to make sure and absolutely certain that this evil man was stopped immediately. Did Fr Brady not realize that laicising Fr Smyth would not protect children only limit the possible damage to the Church as an institution? Fr Brady was a teacher at the time who had a doctorate in divinity and was 35 years of age at the time.

Unfortunately, because of his position here as a Church leader, Cardinal Brady must resign or be fired by the Pope. His position is untenable. It is now a matter for the Gardai and possibly the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In January 1980, the Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger approved the transfer of a priest who was a suspected paedophile to Munich to undergo therapy. Despite his record, this priest was assigned pastoral work when he again abused minors. In 1986, he was convicted of sexually abusing minors and given an 18-month suspended sentence and a fine of DM4,000. Last weekend, Fr Gerhard Gruber who was then Vicar General in Munich tried to assume full responsibility to distance the then Archbishop (now Pope) from the scandal. If the person at the top bears responsibility, then along with the resignations of bishops Walsh, Field, Murray, Moriarty and Magee, logic would compel one to the conclusion that the Pope (Joseph Ratzinger) should take his leave and exit also. Otherwise, the embers of the Catholic Church will smoulder until there is a new Council for renewal and clerical celibacy and a few other shibboleths are abandoned. Anglo-protestantism may become the new Catholicism.

As I see it, the problem for the Catholic Church is that they believe that they are the one true church founded by Christ/God and in essence that Church Canon Law has primacy over Civil Law. Loyalty to the church supersedes loyalty to the state. That is fine in a theocracy but not in a secular state. The ambivalence among the Irish Catholic clergy is a result of the direction of public policy in the republic moving from a ‘de facto’ theocratic Catholic control to a republican democracy over the course of the last 40 years. Up to the early 1960s, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Con Lucy in Cork and Bishop Browne in Galway were princes of the Church in a state run by the Church. For younger people, their collective image was that of dour dangerous ogres. The obsequiousness of the political establishment at the time can easily be deduced from photographs of ministers kissing bishops rings in public and the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Corish saying he was a Catholic first etc.

Gay Byrne should be acknowledged for his openness to reform as compere of the Late Late Show. Change was inevitable when international communications became the norm. For the internet, it is obvious that laws are necessary but censorship no.

What is in store for the Catholic Church in Ireland depends on internal change in the Church. Unchanged, the old ways will lead to inevitable extinction. The age profile of the clergy dictates that this reality is approaching fast.

For a summary, I recommend Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times. He is a sane sound commentator. The clerical and secular aspects of the law and the attitude and reasons for this attitude resulting from the Vatican Directive “Crimine Solicitationies” “Instruction on Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation” is well set out by Dan Buckley in the Irish Examiner and he details the Pope Benedict problem also. Take a look at both papers dated 16th March 2010.