Cardinal Sean Brady is now reportedly considering his options, but has been defended by lay religious group Direction For Our Times, who are now based in Kilnacrott Abbey, the former home of paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth
On Thursday, 'Anne', a lay apostle whose religious group 'Direction For Our Times' now reside in Holy Trinity Abbey, Kilnacrott, where Fr Brendan Smyth was based and is now buried, went on Northern Sound, defending Cardinal Sean Brady, saying that the media have questions to answer.
Northern Sound interviewer: People abused by Fr Brendan Smyth, they want justice, they want the people that were involved in the whole details of that investigation to come out and tell the truth
'Anne': What I think what's happening in some places is the media is not giving us the truth and it is confusing people. There was recently a show on television and it withheld so many facts that it's disturbing to me because people can't make good analysis... for example the programme left us thinking that Cardinal Brady had authority, he had no authority, that's the truth, they covered up the truth when they left that out. The programme left us thinking that Cardinal Brady was unco-operative with their show, but the truth was that he gave them a full extensive request six weeks in advance, but they covered that up. The truth is that there is a difference between the institutional church and religious orders and the responsibility for disciplining Fr Smyth was with the religious order. They knew that but they didn't tell us that, which left us very confused. Cardinal Brady, at that time, worked with other priests to get the truth so that they could put an airtight statement against Fr Smyth.
NS: Do you not think he had a moral obligation, note-taker or whatever, to the people to go further afield because this wasn't being acted on within the church?
A: I think we all had a moral obligation. I believe that those people did everything that they could, I think they thought that they did a good job. Cardinal Brady himself issued a beautiful statement which was ignored, which is disturbing. He said I was "shocked, appalled, outraged, when I discovered that Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse others". He said: "I trusted that when Bishop McKiernan brought the evidence to the religious superiors of Fr Brendan Smyth they would have dealt decisively with him", he said "I feel betrayed that those who had the authority in the church failed to act." So this is the thing, he thought he did his job, he tried and we have to accept that. There is a temptation to believe that this was his fault, this is really not true. Now, another thing let me say this because it is so important that we accept the truth. There were clergy who knew, there were doctors who knew, there were nurses who knew, there were gardai who knew, there were parents who knew and the one thing they had on common is that they followed not a written law but an unwritten policy that nobody talked about. There was a woman, this is anecdotal, but I trust the source, who was a nurse in the hospital on the paediatric ward... if Fr Brendan Smyth came to that ward even though her time was up she would sit and read the paper by the children and that was gutsy, that was courageous. I think that when she went home she thought "I protected those children, I did the best I could and yet she didn't go to the guards and probably Sean Brady felt the same way. You can't underestimate the manipulative, charismatic nature of these offenders, they are tough to deal with.
NS: I know the 1970s was a different time and the church had more power, some would argue, than it has today, but any gutsy human being would report something like that.
A: Well, none of them did and these weren't shrinking violets, these were Irish people, courageous people, the Irish people are known for their courage all over the globe and none of them went to the guards so we have to accept that it was a different culture and we have to be humble and we also fail at times to do the right thing.
NS: But when you think of the head of the church now, leading it forward to a new future and with this hanging over you, do you know [what I mean]... people want a fresh start.
A: Oh, I'm so glad you said that. I have a thought on that because we have to separate the church in Ireland from the culture because faith believers think differently than world believers, for example, people say "Oh, he's hanging on to power..." I'm sure he would rather be in Iowa than where he is. This man is not hanging on to power. What Cardinal Brady is doing is perservering. This is not a business this is a faith community and fathers don't leave because it gets difficult
NS: What I'm taking from that, this interview, is that there are more people to blame than those in the clergy and also that you felt that the documentary didn't portray the story in a balanced way so that people could make an informed decision or opinion on it themselves.
A: That's absolutely accurate and I believe that because part of what qualifies Cardinal Sean Brady to lead this church during this time is that here was there then and he quotes St Patrick and says "I lead as a sinner". "I'm not portraying myself as a perfect man, I was just the man in the chair at the time". He's very determined and if people would please go ahead and hear what Cardinal Brady says, you will find a humble man of great integrity who recognised a tremendous wound of the Irish people at this time... I never do radio interviews, as you know, but I can't not speak any more when I'm watching this because faithful Catholics are going to have to learn to listen as faithful Catholics... we're supposed to listen for the Spirt and Cardinal Sean is there for the spirit for those who wish to listen.