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Ireland's top Catholic cleric faces calls to resign over abuse scandal

From Peter Taggart, for CNN
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Fri May 4, 2012
Cardinal Sean Brady, Ireland's top Roman Catholic cleric, insists he does not plan to step down.
Cardinal Sean Brady, Ireland's top Roman Catholic cleric, insists he does not plan to step down.
  • NEW: An abuse survivor says Cardinal Sean Brady should face more questions
  • Brady being criticized for how he handled cases of sexual abuse of children by priests
  • A new TV documentary says Brady was more involved in a 1970s cover-up than he admits
  • Brady says he did what he was supposed to do at the time and insists he won't resign

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Ireland's top Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Sean Brady, was under mounting pressure to resign Friday amid renewed allegations about his role in dealing with the sexual abuse of children by priests.

A British television documentary repeated claims made in 2010 that Brady was told of attacks by pedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth in 1975 but did not inform police or the parents of the victims.

The documentary also claimed that Brady, then a priest, had a greater role in the church investigation of the Smyth allegations than he has admitted. New details and documents also were produced.

Responding to the BBC program, Brady repeated his defense that he had done his job by passing details of all allegations to his superiors.

Calls for Irish Catholic chief to resign

He told CNN that he felt "betrayed" when he discovered that church officials had taken no action against Smyth, who continued to abuse children for years throughout Ireland and in the United States.

Smyth was eventually imprisoned and has since died.

Brady has accepted that during the 1970s, he was "part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society and the church," but he has insisted he does not intend to resign.

The Catholic Church in Ireland said Friday that a previous request from Brady for Pope Benedict XVI to send a bishop to help him with his work would be "reactivated."

Calls continued from abuse victims and lawmakers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for Brady to step down.

Abuse survivor Jon McCourt told CNN that further inquiries should be made into Brady's role.

"Many people have been prosecuted for a lot less and served years in prison," he said.

"At the very least, an investigation should be carried out. The law is the law, there was no immunity. He was legally obliged to inform the authorities, and not doing so has caused a lot of people a lot of pain."

One of the most senior politicians to speak out has been Ireland's deputy prime minister, Eamon Gilmore.

"It is my own personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse that we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority," he said.

Gilmore, also the country's foreign minister, last year decided to close Ireland's embassy in the Vatican, citing the need to cut costs. Brady said then he was "profoundly disappointed."

The government and church in the mainly Catholic country have been at loggerheads in recent times after a series of state-backed investigations into sexual abuse by priests and other church figures over several decades.

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