Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Smyth victim in Brady resign call

Cardinal Sean Brady
Cardinal Sean Brady said he was following bishops' orders

A victim of serial abuser Fr Brendan Smyth has called on the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland to resign.

Cardinal Sean Brady has admitted he was at meetings in 1975 where two abused children signed vows of silence over their complaints against Fr Smyth.

On Monday, a victim of Fr Smyth called Samantha told the BBC the church needed to "root out the rot and start from the top".

"This is not a witch hunt, this is about what is right," she added.

The complaints of abuse were investigated by Cardinal Brady in his capacity as secretary to the bishop of Kilmore.

Samantha was abused by Fr Smyth, while she was at boarding school from 1974 to 1979.

"I just feel such sadness and such loss and there is just no need for it, if people had done what they are supposed to do and as adults, forget about the fact that they were priests," she said.

"It is an adult's job to protect children, regardless if it was 35 years ago or today and if he (Cardinal Brady) had done what he was supposed to do, I wouldn't have been raped or abused for four of those five years.

Child sex abuse is a very serious crime and very grave and if I found myself in a situation where I was aware that my failure to act had allowed or meant that other children were abused, well then, I think I would resign
Cardinal Sean Brady, December 2009

"I just think it is so wrong. And I am one of the lucky unlucky ones, at least I can talk about it.

"I am still alive, I know two people who were abused by Brendan Smyth in that same school who have committed suicide."

The two children are reported to have been aged 10 and 14 when the meetings took place in 1975.

Cardinal Brady has said he will only resign over claims he helped cover up abuse if he is asked to do so by the Pope.

"There was no cover up, I believed those people. I brought what I heard to the bishop," he said.

Cardinal Brady said he had been following his bishop's orders and there were no guidelines for dealing with such investigations at that time.

"Now I know with hindsight that I should have done more.

"I thought at that time I was doing what I was required to do, and not just that, but most effectively. I acted with great urgency to get that evidence and produce it," he said.

"I believed in doing so, I was following the most effective route to get this stopped. That is my concern and always was - the safety of children."

He said his actions were part of a process that removed Smyth's licence to act as a priest.

He said he did not believe this was a resigning matter.

Government report

In an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE last December, the cardinal said he would resign if he found that a child had been abused as a result of any managerial failure on his part.

"I would remember that child sex abuse is a very serious crime and very grave and if I found myself in a situation where I was aware that my failure to act had allowed or meant that other children were abused, well then, I think I would resign," he said.

At that time, the cardinal apologised on behalf of the Church after an Irish government report revealed abuse over decades, a systematic cover-up by the Church and a lack of action by Irish police.

He said: "No-one is above the law in this country.

"Every Catholic should comply fully with their obligations to the civil law and co-operate with the Gardai (Irish police) in the reporting and investigation of any crime."

Pope Benedict
Pope Benedict has had to deal with sex abuse scandals in various countries

Father Brendan Smyth was a notorious child sex offender who was believed to have abused at least 20 children over a 40 year period in the north and south of Ireland.

He was eventually convicted and jailed for more than 90 offences, many of them committed after the Brady meetings.

Campaigners

However campaigners believe the cleric could have abused hundreds of children as he was moved around parishes, diocese and countries by the church.

They have accused Cardinal Brady of reckless endangerment.

A campaigner for victims of clerical child abuse in Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, also said Cardinal Brady should resign.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

"He believed that this out of control paedophile [Smyth] had abused children and he did nothing to report this crime to the police either then, or it would appear, at any point over the next 20 years during which Smyth continued to rape and abuse in parishes across the world with near impunity," Mr O'Gorman said.

"Instead he took part in a cover-up of Smyth's crimes and swore his child victims to secrecy," he said.

"At 36 years of age he (Cardinal Brady) was no fresh-faced seminarian, fresh out of college, he was a professor, a teacher and a canon lawyer."

The revelations come as the Catholic Church worldwide grapples with accusations that it covered up abuse by priests.

In recent months paedophile scandals have rocked the church in Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany.



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