Sean Brady, the HIA, and the all too familiar problem with organized religion

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.

It was more important to people like Sean Brady that the Church continue to be the arbiter of social behaviour in Ireland, and that they themselves could one day ascend to a position like “Cardinal”.

The former head of the Church in Ireland informed the HIA that he was “bound” to an oath of secrecy in relation to Church findings about the actions of its staff; and that that he did not have the power to stop Brendan Smyth from expanding the victimhood of his sadistic actions.

The pressing question that arises from Cardinal Brady’s poor attempt at exonerating himself is what would have happened if he had the personal conviction to ignore bureaucratic orders and speak out?

Would God have abandoned him? Would his claim to Christianity enter disrepute? If anything, Cardinal Brady would have been strengthened in both regards; and so  the only credible conclusion we can reach is that Cardinal Brady was not willing to act against his own “Highers” simply because his own future within the Church was too precious to him.

More like a corporation than a Church, the Catholic leadership in Ireland opted to airbrush rather than aggressively pursue the satanic behaviours occurring at every level; and “rising stars” within the Church like Sean Brady ultimately chose their professional ambitions over doing what whatever necessary to protect young Catholics against monsters like Brendan Smyth.

Judging by the ill-advised grin displayed during this last’s HIA proceedings, Sean Brady is clearly a man that is very pleased with his life work – in particular ascending to the second highest office within the Catholic Church.

But while the aging congregations that sit before Cardinal Brady will continue to revere him as a man that is close to God, history will write his legacy as a man that fatally overlooked paedophilia when it was staring him in the face.