Jude Collins

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cardinal Brady - should he stay or should he go?

Talking about child abuse and the Catholic clergy, if you don’t follow the majority line, is to take your head in your hands these days. But here goes.

The airwaves and the headlines are presently dominated by the Cardinal Brady affair from 1975. Fr Sean Brady as he then was took notes at a meeting with a young boy who had alleged sexual abuse – and, there are claims Fr Brady also was involved in gathering evidence regarding the case. There are calls from right, left and centre now for him to resign from his position as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland because of this.

OK. I’ll say this three times so no one misses it. Sexual abuse of children is a disgusting, perverted action. For clergy of the Catholic Church to engage in it is shameful beyond words. It is more than understandable that those who suffered in that way should be emotionally wounded for life and they have my full sympathy. (I know those are three different statements but I expect you get my drift.)

That  said, let’s consider the facts. Is this a legal matter? That is to say, did Fr Brady in 1975 break the law of the land? If he did, like anyone who breaks the law, he should be brought before the courts, tried and a decision made by a judge and jury as to his guilt or innocence.

I’m not a lawyer but I’m going to assume he hasn’t broken the law of the land, since those most opposed to him don’t highlight any legal charge. If it’s not a legal matter, two things remain – one a question of morality, the other a question of leadership.

Morality first. Did Fr Sean Brady in 1975, by acting as notary and (possibly) gathering evidence on the case, act in an immoral fashion? There’s only one person knows the answer to that, and that’s Sean Brady. We can speculate that he knew this, he should have that, but in terms of his moral guilt, there’s only one question: did he act in accordance with his conscience, or did he act contrary to his conscience? I don’t know the answer to that, you don’t know the answer to that. Only Sean Brady knows the true answer.

The second question is that of leadership. There have been calls on all sides for Cardinal Brady to resign and allow someone else to lead the Catholic Church in Ireland. Many of the people making the calls are non-Catholics, or  former Catholics, or even in some cases people who have consistently been hostile to the Catholic Church.  It seems to me astonishing that those people should now feel such concern that the Catholic Church is well-led by an appropriate clergyman – i.e., someone other than Brady.  Surely who leads the Catholic Church in Ireland is a matter for the Catholic Church in Ireland – and I don’t, repeat  don’t mean the Catholic clergy in Ireland. I mean the Catholic Church in Ireland, comprised of all those people who are sincere Catholics.  I’ve been casting around for a parallel to the calls from those outside the Catholic Church for a change in leadership and the only one I can think of is the Orange Order’s attitude to residents’ groups. Remember when they used to (they still may) refuse to talk to the groups because they didn’t like the spokesperson the group had identified? Quite rightly, the groups said it was their business who they appointed as their spokesperson.  Something similar applies here. It may be that Cardinal Sean Brady is not the best person to lead the Catholic Church in Ireland. It may be that he is.  In either case, it’s a matter for members of the Catholic Church to decide, not those who consider it irrelevant, those who once thought it important but no longer do so, or those who detest it.


  1. Your attempt to sectarianise this issue is disgraceful. Can you cite "non-Catholic" calls for the Cardinal's resignation? Peter Robinson is the only unionist to reply to press queries, and he said it was a matter for the church. Martin McGuinness, however, has called for Brady to resign. If you are not calling McGuinness a 'non-Catholic', who exactly are you complaining about?

  2. Saw you last night giving the Nuremburg defence. I particularly liked your 'I'm not defending him...' before you went on to do precisely that.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Anon 5:45 - as I say, I knew I was taking my head in my hands in even mentioning the topic but I think we can still aim a little higher than your level of exchange, which is why I'm deleting you. Sorry.

  5. Please name three 'non-Catholics' calling for Brady's resignation. Or even one.

  6. giordanobruno3 May 2012 at 16:08

    Guardians of our morality such as Bishops and vicars are happy to lecture the rest of us on what we should do. Why should we not comment on their behaviour?

  7. Funny old show that last night.Such concern for the running or management of the catholic church in a state where anti catholicism is seen as the norm or even part of a culture. The peace process must be working. It just seems like yesterday that radio show presenters would allow bigots to insult other people's religion unchecked or even endorse the sarcasim. Felt sorry for that guy who was sexualy assaulted, but his niavity in looking sympathy in this sectarian hole was a big miscalculation, i was wrongfully barred from a GAA club, but i never thought of going down the shankill seeking support for my situation. The poor fellow was used for sensationalism in Nolans quest to host the biggest show in the "country". And poor oul Derek Acorra, laughed at for his "special" abilities, in a state were wine and bread can be changed into a mans body and blood, Noah, the man with briliant eyesight, walking on water, pillars of salt, creationism, scripture, sin, etc. Im no lover of any church but this Brady thing is ruining my break from the Titanic, come on big stevey, change the tune, what about Lisa Dorrian,or Kincorra or something.Oh whats that about Noah , think Bacteria.

  8. You are a brave man Jude, and deserve respect. (Nach lagadh Dia thú/That Got won't strike you). How come you can't get the journalist monologue spot on Hearts+Minds but you can get on to Nolan for this. It's the way of the media nowadays. Most of the time they have someone who is guilty, but twist the story -I don't know why- so we don't get to judge on the full facts.

    Brady had no backbone, but was only the notetaker and passed on the info. as instructed.

  9. I,m afraid I,ve lost some respect for you Jude.In my opinion he can give whichever excuse he likes but by his inaction several children went on to be abused, that is indisputable.I,m also left disgusted that that he participated in a sleazy interrogation of a terrified 14 years old.
    That this man presides over a church that claims to have changed is a travesty, he must go.I further agree that your attempt to sectarianise the issue does you no credit.

  10. giordanobruno4 May 2012 at 12:27

    "but in terms of his moral guilt, there’s only one question: did he act in accordance with his conscience, or did he act contrary to his conscience?"
    In terms of morality it is pusillanimous in the extreme to say we should just leave it to his own conscience.
    Our actions affect others, whether within the law or not. Those affected by this mans inaction have every right to highlight his lack of moral courage.

  11. Anon 8:04 - I really don't mind if you've lost some respect for me. I'd rather say what I believe to be true. I also reject your claim that I've attempted to sectarianise the matter - I have done nothing of the sort. Two other points (I know you haven't raised them but I'll use this opportunity, as I've too much else I should be doing):
    (i) I'd like to ask all the people who have said with passion and I presume sincerity that Brady should have blown the whistle: when did you last blow the whistle on some matter in your workplace that you knew was wrong? I've worked in a number of big organisations over the years and I've always been struck by the deference, not to say brown-nosing, that's directed at those with power.
    (ii) I hope someone is collecting the media response on this affair. Future generations may well want to know what a media feeding frenzy looked like.

  12. You are pretty good at highlighting hypocrisy when you see it. How about this one? Martin McGuinness has said it is time for Brady to consider his future. You remember when he called on Gerry Adams to reconsider his position as Sinn Fein Czar when Adams was accused of covering up his brother's allegedly incestuous behavior? Funny, me neither. Now, is that not an instance of the kettle calling the pot black or vice versa? Whats worse is that Adams lied repeatedly about not knowing Liam Adams was still active in Sinn Fein. At least Brady seems to have given an honest account of his mistakes. If either of them had any integrity, they'd step down from their lofty high places. But, methinks that's the problem. Both of them are so used to power and unchallenged authority that they are obsessed with themselves.

  13. I am Anon 8:04 In my twenties I went to the police and reported the uncle who abused me and had him prosecuted. I did all this against the wishes of both my parents and extended family who wanted to avoid the shame and felt that his crimes somehow reflected on them.It caused many rows then but I still feel I did the right thing as I exposed his abuse and made it very unlikely that he would get away with it again.I took a hard decision to do the right thing, so should Brady, so should you.I wrote to this excuse for a man asking him to resign over a year ago, long before your media feeding frenzy.Furthermore I saw you on Nolan, you tried to sectarianise it, I know what I saw, deny it all you wish.

  14. “Whilst many are understandably asking serious questions about the Catholic Church leadership, the position of Cardinal Brady is a matter which the Catholic Church hierarchy and its individual members should determine”

    From Peter Robinson. I would also be interested to see names of the non-Catholics that Mr Collins is so upset at for having expressed an opinion in this matter.

    We are talking about the abuse of defenceless children here and the possible cover-up of these crimes by those in authority. This is therefore not a sectarian matter and the attempt by defenders (including the writer of this blog) of the church to paint it at so says a great deal about their own mindset.