“I will only resign if asked by the Holy Father.”

Cardinal Séan Brady is resisting calls for his resignation over his involvement in a 1975 canonical inquiry into allegations of sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth, during which the complainants, aged 10 and 14, “signed undertakings, on oath, to respect the confidentiality of the information-gathering process.” Brendan Smyth was convicted of 17 counts of sexual abuse 20 years later – and brought down an Irish government in the process. From an iol report

Asked why he did not see it as a moral obligation to ensure the police were alerted, the Catholic primate said today: “Yes, I knew that these were crimes, but I did not feel that it was my responsibility to denounce the actions of Brendan Smyth to the police.”

And from an Irish Times report

Cardinal Brady insisted that responsibility for Smyth was with the head of Smyth’s religious order at the Co Cavan abbey where he was sent after he was stripped of pastoral duties as a priest. “The responsibility for his behaviour rested with his religious superior at Kilnacrott,” he said. The cardinal said he did all that was asked of him by Dr McKiernan in relation to Smyth. “I did act, and act effectively, in that inquiry to produce the grounds for removing Fr Smyth from ministry and specifically it was underlined that he was not to hear confessions and that was very important.”

Meanwhile, as a separate Irish Times report notesMonsignor Maurice Dooley, former Professor of Canon Law, said Cardinal Daly had “no obligation whatsoever” to report anything to the gardaí. “There is no law in Ireland or statute that requires that clergy report crimes to the police,” he added. Monsignor Dooley pointed to paragraph 1.16 of the Murphy report, saying: “it says quite clearly that the clergy, the bishops and so on, had no obligation to report anything to the police”. “Is it a sin against the law of God not to report matters to the police …no I don’t think so…because there are certain people exempt from this moral obligation to report to the police,” he said. [added fuller quote]Although a BBC report notes Cardinal Séan Brady’s statements in December last year.

However, in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE last December, the cardinal said he, himself, would resign if he found that a child had been abused as a result of any managerial failure on his part.

“I would remember that child sex abuse is a very serious crime and very grave and if I found myself in a situation where I was aware that my failure to act had allowed or meant that other children were abused, well then, I think I would resign,” he said.

At that time, the cardinal apologised on behalf of the Church after an Irish government report revealed abuse over decades, a systematic cover-up by the Church and a lack of action by Irish police.

He said: “No-one is above the law in this country.

“Every Catholic should comply fully with their obligations to the civil law and co-operate with the Gardai (Irish police) in the reporting and investigation of any crime.”

And, as Crooked Timber’s Maria Farrell notes

The Irish adult voices of raped children are joined by American ones; people now grown up who were raped and abused by Fr. Smith when he was sent away from these shores and off to where he wasn’t known and could start again. A Connecticut woman poignantly asks why she was repeatedly raped by a priest who had been sent to America instead of to the police. An Irish woman asks why no one went to the police. If they had, she might have been saved. Many might have been saved.

Will Crawley widens the story out onto the European stage

Last month, reports began to surface of historic abuse cases in several elite Jesuit boarding schools in Germany.

The German Catholic Church is now dealing with multiplying new reports of physical and sexual abuse, including some linked to a renowned choir once led by Pope Benedict’s brother, Fr Georg Ratzinger.

As the domino effect of reporting continues, the wave of abuse revelations reached the Netherlands by late February, with scores of victims coming forward.

By March, the scandal had spread to Switzerland, where 60 new cases have now come to light.

And in the past few weeks, more abuse cases have emerged in Austria and Poland.

This weekend, a Vatican spokesman denounced “aggressive” efforts by the media to personally implicate the Pope in the unfolding child abuse crisis as questions were raised about the handling of a priest accused of molestation in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising when the future Pope was archbishop in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Last Friday, the Pope met the President of the German Bishops’ Conference to discuss the wider sex abuse crisis, just as an archbishop in Austria was breaking ranks to call for a public discussion about the future of the mandatory celibacy rule for priests.

Some informed Vatican sources now predict that the text of Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter to the Irish church will need to be expanded to include churches across Europe as full realisation dawns that the clerical sex abuse crisis now facing the church is a European problem, not just an Irish one.