Cardinal Brady's Role in Abuse Interviews Clarified

Bishop Asked His Help as Canon Law Scholar

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MARCH 16, 2010 ( The Church in Ireland is clarifying Cardinal Sean Brady’s personal involvement in collecting evidence regarding cases of sexual abuse in the ’70s.

The cardinal, who is president of the Irish episcopal conference, has come under media fire over the role he played in interviewing two adolescent boys who were asked to «confirm by oath the truthfulness of their statements and that they would preserve the confidentiality of the interview process.»

A statement today from the Catholic Communications Office clarified that the «intention of this oath was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Father Brendan Smyth.»

The future cardinal — who was then a priest of nine years and a 1967 graduate of canon law — was asked by his bishop in 1975 to «conduct a canonical enquiry into an allegation of child sexual abuse which was made by a boy in Dundalk, concerning a Norbertine priest, Father Brendan Smyth.»

The statement explains that Father Brady was selected for this task because of his doctorate in canon law; «however he had no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of the enquiry. Bishop McKiernan [his bishop] held this responsibility.»

The statement continues: «On March 29, 1975, Father Brady and two other priests interviewed a boy ([age] 14) in Dundalk. Father Brady’s role was to take notes. On April 4, 1975, Father Brady interviewed a second boy ([age] 15) in the Parochial House in Ballyjamesduff. On this occasion Father Brady conducted the inquiry by himself and took notes. […]

«A week later Father Brady passed his findings to Bishop McKiernan for his immediate action.
«Eight days later, on April 12, 1975, Bishop McKiernan reported the findings to Father Smyth’s religious superior, the abbot of Kilnacrott. The specific responsibility for the supervision of Father Smith’s activities was, at all times, with his religious superiors. Bishop McKiernan withdrew Brendan Smyth’s priestly faculties and advised psychiatric intervention.»

Smyth was jailed some 20 years later, admitting to abusing around 90 children over 40 years. He died in prison in 1997.

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