16 March 2010
Note from the Catholic Communications Office to clarify media reporting on Cardinal Seán Brady – 16 March 2010
The State’s first Child Abuse Guidelines came into effect in 1987 and the Church’s first guidelines Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, were published in 1996.
In late March 1975, Fr Seán Brady was asked by his bishop, Bishop Francis McKiernan, to conduct a canonical enquiry into an allegation of child sexual abuse which was made by a boy in Dundalk, concerning a Norbertine priest, Fr Brendan Smyth.
Fr Brady was then a full-time teacher at St Patrick’s College, Cavan. Because he held a doctorate in Canon Law, Fr Brady was asked to conduct this canonical enquiry; however he had no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of the enquiry. Bishop McKiernan held this responsibility.
- On 29 March 1975, Fr Brady and two other priests interviewed a boy (14) in Dundalk (who was accompanied to the interview by his parents*). Fr Brady’s role was to take notes. On 4 April 1975, Fr Brady interviewed a second boy (15) in the Parochial House in Ballyjamesduff. On this occasion Fr Brady conducted the inquiry by himself and took notes.
At the end of both interviews, the boys were asked to confirm by oath the truthfulness of their statements and that they would preserve the confidentiality of the interview process. The intention of this oath was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Fr Brendan Smyth.
A week later Fr Brady passed his findings to Bishop McKiernan for his immediate action.
Eight days later, on 12 April 1975, Bishop McKiernan reported the findings to Fr Smyth’s Religious Superior, the Abbot of Kilnacrott. The specific responsibility for the supervision of Fr Smyth’s activities was, at all times, with his Religious Superiors. Bishop McKiernan withdrew Brendan Smyth’s priestly faculties and advised psychiatric intervention.
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678