Cardinal Sean Brady’s engagement with the HIA outlines a fundamental problem with organized religion: power and rank too often take precedent over a commitment to personal conscience.
While Cardinal Brady has tried to articulate it in a more sugar-coated way, what his conduct in relation to Brendan Smyth shows is that he was prepared to sacrifice his own sense of morality to preserve the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and enable himself to climb the Church’s ranking system through displaying an absolute commitment to orders.
Anyone with a steadfast sense of principle would have been appalled by the fact that the Church responded to widespread internal paedophilia with a power preservation strategy. Such a person would have dissented from the Church, and put the actions of somebody like Brendan Smyth on public record so that a process of scrutiny and change could take place.
Clergy like Sean Brady cannot lay claim to integrity because they placed the Church and their own personal standing within it over the sexual abuse of children. They were not outraged by a tremendous evil like the systematic sexual abuse of children to the point of taking clinical action that would potentially result in their own excommunication from the Church.