Skip to main content

Cardinal should quit over abuse scandal, most Irish say

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
  • Cardinal Sean Brady has no plans to resign, spokesman indicates
  • In Irish Times poll, 3 of 4 respondents said he should quit
  • Brady did not report to police church investigation into abusive priest
  • He has apologized "to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part"

(CNN) -- Three out of four Irish adults say the country's top churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady, should resign for his role in hiding abuse of children by one of the country's most notoriously abusive priests decades ago, according to a poll published by the Irish Times Monday.

Brady was part of an internal church investigation into Father Brendan Smyth in 1975. He did not report his findings to the police and asked two teenagers who gave him evidence to sign oaths of secrecy.

He is not planning to step down, his spokesman indicated Monday.

"Cardinal Brady is aware of the opinion poll findings and of the anger of people concerning child sexual abuse," Martin London told CNN.

"Cardinal Brady is also confident that he has the prayers and support of many people as he continues his work in renewing faith and structures in the church at this challenging time," he said.

Brady apologized for his role in the Smyth investigation in March. Smyth died in prison in 1997.

"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologize to you with all my heart," he said at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Ireland.

"I also apologize to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in," Brady said, according to a copy of the remarks released by Ireland's Catholic Communications Office.

Child abuse by Catholic clergy in Ireland has become such a widespread scandal that the pope addressed it in an unprecedented pastoral letter to Irish Catholics.

Three separate government-backed reports in recent years have charged Catholic clergy with physically and sexually abusing children over the course of decades, and the church with systematically hushing it up.

Only one in 10 Irish people think the church has responded adequately to the most recent investigation, summarized in the Murphy report, the Irish Times poll found.

More than eight out of 10 -- 83 percent -- felt the church had not done enough to respond to the report, which looked into the abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Several Irish bishops have handed in their resignations since the Murphy report was published in November.

The Irish Times/Ipsos, MRBI poll was taken on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters ages 18 and over in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points all around the Republic of Ireland. The sampling error is plus or minus 3 points.