The resignation of Bishop John Magee as Bishop of Cloyne has been described as “too little, too late” by victims of clerical child abuse in Ireland amid calls for a root-and-branch investigation into the Catholic church.
Cardinal Brady has so far resisted calls for his resignation after it emerged he was a key figure in church hearings at which children were sworn to secrecy and at least one serial abuser, Fr Brendan Smyth, was allowed to continue his activities. Allegations have been made against a number of high-ranking clerical figures in the Catholic church around Ireland.
Last week, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said information being held by diocese and religious congregations about clerical sex abuse in Ireland should be released, saying “people want the entire truth to come out.”
“I have always said that it is not my job to tell people to resign or to tell people to stay,” the Archbishop said, without calling for the Cardinal to resign.
“I have never done that. People should be accountable, render account of what they’ve done. Resignations are personal decisions.”
A government-ordered report on his Dublin archdiocese, published in November, found that sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese between 1975 and 2004 was routinely covered up by church leaders. Archbishop Martin emphasised the importance of disclosure.
“What is very important in all of this is that the truth comes out. I am worried about this because you are talking now about information that is there in various places - in diocese - in religious orders. People want the entire truth to come out,” Archbishop Martin said.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said last week that Cardinal Brady should consider his position.
Mr McGuinness expressed grave concern about the reports and suggested it was time for the Cardinal to consider stepping down.
“I am a Catholic, I do my best to practise my religion and I think that many Catholics throughout the island of Ireland will be absolutely dismayed at these latest revelations and I do think the Cardinal should consider his position,” he said.
Cardinal Sean Brady used his Saint Patrick’s Day homily to offer an apology for what he describes as “a painful episode” from his past.
“Looking back”, he said, “I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in.”
The cardinal’s sermon, which was broadcast live on Irish radio, included an appeal for prayer for the victims of clerical abuse, and ended with a request for prayer for himself. Dr Brady also said, “For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure.”
In a response to calls for his resignation, the homily ended with these words: “This is a time for deep prayer and much reflection. Be certain that I will be reflecting carefully as we enter into Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. I will use this time to pray, to reflect on the Word of God and to discern the will of the Holy Spirit. I will reflect on what I have heard from those who have been hurt by abuse. I will also talk to people, priests, religious and to those I know and love. Pray for those who have been hurt. Pray for the Church. Pray for me.”
Almost an entire diocese of priests this week went on to the Lough Derg pilgrimage island to seek atonement and gain strength in a difficult time for the Catholic Church in Ireland.
More than 70 of the 80 priests in the diocese of Clogher joined their bishop, Dr Joseph Duffy, for a pre-pilgrimage day on the island, known as St Patrick’s Purgatory.
But all of the Church’s recent efforts to deal with the legacy of abuse, including the Pope’s message read out in Ireland at Masses on Sunday, have so far failed to appease abuse victims.
Some 147 pairs of children’s shoes were tied to the railings outside St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin yesterday [Wednesday], a pair for every child known to have died in St Joseph’s Industrial School, Letterfrack, County Galway.
The demonstration was organised by Fire and Ice, an abuse victims’ support group which aims to empower survivors of industrial schools through achieving compensation and justice for all who experienced abuse.
“You can’t undo what’s been done to the majority of people standing here at this point in time,” said one victim.
Another said the 147 children who died in Letterfrack were not alone. “That’s just one school; other children died in other schools like Artane and Tralee,” he said. “The Government and the religious orders would like to see us disappear. But we are not going away.”