The revelations this week that Cardinal Sean Brady sat in on and conducted interviews with traumatised victims of child rape, believed their story to be true and failed in his moral, Christian and legal duty to inform the gardai, is a true indicator of the extent of the level of denial that exists in the Catholic Church regarding the culture of secrecy.
That at this late stage, more than 30 years on, the Cardinal should see nothing wrong in what he did is shocking. People in business who carry out investigations into alleged misbehaviour recognise the need for secrecy and confidentiality in such investigations, but these mainly pertain to bullying, discrimination. To sit in a room with children who have been raped by one of your employees, and not to call in the police shows that many of God’s disciples live in a parallel universe to the rest of us. To make recommendation that the employee should be halted in his path of evil and to then know that he has not and to still not report it, is a further dereliction of Cardinal Brady’s duty. To know that he could have stopped the abuse of many other children is something only he can live with, but for a start he should remove himself from a position where his role is to guide us on the role to moral righteousness.
He has said that he will only resign if the Pope asks him to do so, but that is unlikely to happen, given that the Pope knows that such a course of action would create a vacuum at the head of the Church in Ireland, and that a likely successor Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, is never likely to be appointed to the top job, given his whistle-blowing of the past year.
Indeed, if one is to believe the outcome of the recent Rome meeting, Archbishop Martin would be sent to the diocese of Craggy Island if such an opportunity presented itself.
Pope Benedict is also keeping a watching brief on events in Germany where he has allegedly become implicated in sexual abuse scandals, and it was notable this week that a foot soldier, lower in stature to the then Archbishop Ratzinger, fell on his sword for the good of the Church and claimed that he was culpable for allowing a paedophile to continue to serve as a priest in Bavaria.
So where does the Church go from here? What actions have other bishops taken to stymie the process of law? How many other Irish bishops have during their careers sat in on interviews with vulnerable victims and oppressed them into silence. It may be 30 years since the then Fr Brady sat in on that interview but it is by the laws of today that we judge people now, not the archaic laws that allow men of God to create an environment for paedophiles to prosper using the power of the Church to stifle the cries of the victims.