The Government has ratcheted up the pressure on an increasingly isolated Cardinal Seán Brady to resign over his failure to tell authorities about the abuse of five children by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it was his personal view that the cardinal should not hold his position, while Education Minister Ruairi Quinn questioned whether he should remain as the patron of 92% of primary schools in the country.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his position as head of Government, and the separation of state and church affairs, meant he was not in a position to urge Cardinal Brady to resign. He repeated earlier comments when he said the Primate of All Ireland should “reflect” on the findings of a BBC documentary about a Church inquiry into child abuse.
The North’s Deputy First Minister Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said it was a “very grave situation” and a “sad time” for the Catholic Church. “Cardinal Brady has responded to calls for his resignation by saying he will continue on as leader of Ireland’s Catholics.
“Speaking personally I believe he should reflect on the wisdom of this position which will leave many Catholics wondering whether anything is to be done by the leadership of the Catholic Church to ring the changes which many believe are required at such a sad time for all.”
Mr Gilmore said the revelations marked “another horrific episode in the failure of senior figures in the Catholic Church to protect children and to report the abuse and rape of children”.
Mr Quinn said the Catholic Church has to consider if “a person who failed spectacularly to protect children is a person who best reflects the role of the Catholic Church in its role as patrons of Catholic schools.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin echoed these calls: “I think Cardinal Brady should reflect on his position and consider his position, but that’s a matter obviously for the Church,” he said. “From my own perspective, I think his authority has been very seriously undermined with what has happened.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme last night, one of Brendan Smyth’s victims and a senior church official both appealed again for the cardinal to resign.
Brendan Boland, who was abused by Smyth from the age of 11, said of Cardinal Brady: “I would just like to say to him, do the decent thing, do the right thing, own up to your failings, resign please.”
Fr Vincent Twomey, professor emeritus of moral theology at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth said of the cardinal: “The cardinal unfortunately has lost his moral credibility.
“I have said publicly, reluctantly that I think he should resign.”
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