THE Vatican’s chief investigator has insisted that Ireland’s most senior cleric has no case to answer over renewed allegations of mishandling of allegations against the paedophile Brendan Smyth.
Monsignor Charles J Scicluna (pictured) defended Cardinal Sean Brady’s role in secret interviews with a 14-year-old victim in 1975 in which he was told it was likely the late priest was abusing five other named children.
The Vatican cleric, from the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, claimed the Primate of All-Ireland had fulfilled his duties by referring information on child abuse to his seniors.
Three years ago when explosive allegations about Cardinal Brady’s role in the canon inquiry into Smyth emerged he said he would resign if he found his actions or failings had led to another child being abused.
“His duty, and I think that what I would expect of a notary or an interviewer’s duty, is to pass the information to the people who are in authority,” Monsignor Scicluna, the Vatican’s equivalent of an Attorney General, said.
“The people who are in authority would have the duty not only to put the people away from danger and so, if they are minors, to inform their parents, but also to make sure that the priest who is offending doesn’t offend and that he is put under supervision.
“Father Brady referred all this information to the people who had authority and a duty to act.”
Monsignor Scicluna, known in Vatican circles as the promoter of justice, told RTE the cardinal was only a note-taker in 1975.
“He was doing his duty to investigate something that had come to the knowledge of the church and I think he fulfilled his duty well,” he said.
New evidence unearthed in the BBC documentary found Cardinal Brady had the names and addresses of children who were suspected of being abused, during a secret internal church inquiry in 1975.
Cardinal Brady did not put his version of events to the programme makers. He is now under intense pressure to address in public the questions raised.
As a priest in 1975 Cardinal Brady interviewed victims and passed the information on to his superiors, but the children’s parents were not informed and no action was taken against Smyth.
Some children were abused by the paedophile priest for years after the probe.
The hour-long This World show on BBC, aired last night, included evidence from Brendan Boland, who had been abused during the 1970s.
He was 14 when he told his parents about the abuse. He also gave the secret inquiry a list of other children he believed were victims.
“There was a boy from Belfast, I gave his name and address,” said Mr Boland in the documentary.
“A girl from Belfast, I gave her name and address. A girl from Cavan, I gave her name and address. Another boy from Cavan, I gave his name and address. And there was another boy who was his friend.”
Mr Boland said he had witnessed one boy being abused and was told by another that he had been a victim as well.
In 1975, Cardinal Brady was a priest and a teacher in Co Cavan when he was sent to investigate the sex abuse claims. His role was note-taker – a duty he has claimed did not give him the authority to pursue the allegations himself.
Details of the church inquiry were unearthed previously, but the fact that Cardinal Brady had names and addresses of possible victims only emerged in last night’s documentary.
The Primate of All-Ireland had previously claimed he would resign if he were found to have failed to act upon allegations of sex abuse.
“I would remember that child abuse is a very serious crime in civil and canon law,” Cardinal Brady said previously.
“It is a grave sin. If I was aware my failure to act had allowed or meant future children were abused, I think I would resign.”
Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, said the cardinal had no reason to step down.
“I don’t see any reason why he should resign. He did what he was asked to do as a young priest of 33 years, and he made his report,” the archbishop said.
“We are also speaking about a different generation – when asked to do something by your bishop you did it and the responsibility lay with him.”