Cardinal Seán Brady insisted yesterday he had no intentions of stepping down, although he issued a public apology to Brendan Boland, a survivor of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.
The apology was delivered as the primate came off Lough Derg in Co Donegal following a penitential pilgrimage in advance of next month’s Eucharistic Congress.
Despite continuing calls for his resignation, the cardinal said there had also been “many, many, calls from people” who wanted him to remain in office.
He also hoped a coadjutor — with succession rights — would be appointed to his archdiocese as soon as possible.
Cardinal Brady said he now realised that the parents of children who were being abused by Smyth should have been informed about the allegations of abuse being made against the late priest.
“Definitely the parents should have been informed. That’s quite clear,” he said.
Cardinal Brady said he apologised without hesitation to Brendan Boland, and to all survivors of abuse.
He said he would also like to personally apologise to Mr Boland, and hoped to do so in the future.
He said he intended to remain on as primate “until I’m 75, or unless the Holy See indicated it didn’t want me to stay”. He said there was absolutely no indication from the Holy See that it wanted him to resign.
Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was open to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin contacting the Government to outline his proposals for an independent inquiry into the crimes of Smyth.
The Archbishop of Dublin mooted the idea of an “independent commission of investigation into the activities of Brendan Smyth” that would operate north and south of the border and examine Church and State.
Yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald said nobody in Government had yet had an opportunity to discuss the merits of the proposal, but she said she was open to contact from the archbishop on the issue.
“We have not had any communication from him as yet,” she said, adding Smyth had operated in a number of different jurisdictions.
“The question of further inquiries was one I would never rule out because we are continually surprised about what emerges. Does he [Dr Martin] have in mind that the Church would look at how he [Smyth] was managed internationally? That could be helpful.”
She said the Government’s priorities included receiving the audit of the Catholic dioceses as conducted by the gardaí and the HSE, implementing new legislation on withholding information on abuse, and the Children First guidelines.
Meanwhile, up to 1,000 people yesterday attended an event in Dublin organised by the Association of Catholic Priests.
Towards an Assembly of the Irish Church heard numerous calls for change within the structure of the Church.
Association member Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, regarding the pressure on Cardinal Brady to resign said: “Who is the cardinal to look to for advice with regard to his position at the moment?
“We are trying to encourage the Church to restructure itself in such a way so that in future somebody in Seán Brady’s position would be helped by having a real sense of how the rest of the Church is thinking.”
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