“But Jesus called them unto him, and said: Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Here are two pictures. These two men have something on common.
Can you guess what it is?
I am sure you got it at once. Yes, both are Roman Catholic priests.
One is Father Kaplan Johannes Prassek. He died on 25th June 1943.
To be rather more precise on that day Father Prassek along with another two Catholic priests, Eduard Muleer and Hermann Lange and a Lutheran pastor the Reverend Karl Stellbrink, were executed by the Nazis at Hamburg’s Holstenglacis Prison after a show trial. The were beheaded.
Their crime was to preach against the evil doctrines of the Nazis.
It is reported that they all went to their fate and a composed and even joyful manner, content in their faith and in their ministry in the face of evil. Prassek was a humble man and lived a simple life. So one may say that Father Prasseck was a man of faith, compassion, love, courage and principle.
The other picture is His Eminence Sean Baptiste Brady, the present Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
I think he lives in nice house.
Recently BBC’s This World programme exposed ugly secrets about child abuse in the Irish Roman Catholic Church. For those who are minded and have a strong stomach a link to the programme is here.
As for Cardinal Brady, the allegations from the BBC’s This World programme are these:
- That in 1975 the now Cardinal Brady was a priest and teacher in County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, when he was sent by his bishop as one of a team of three sent to investigate a claim of child sexual abuse by a fellow priest.
- That priest was Father Brendan Smyth, who was later exposed as a child abuser and died in prison in 1997, one month into a 12-year prison sentence for a serial child abuse.
- That in 1975 Brady had discovered what Smyth was up to and had compiled a list of victims.
- That Brady compiled the report into the matter but failed to inform either the parents or the police about what was going on.
- That no effective sanction was taken by the Church against Smyth.
- That Smyth went on to abuse many more children over the next 13 years before finally being exposed and convicted.
Indeed, it seems that child abuse by Catholic priest has been a serious and even endemic problem within the Irish church by “men” such as Smyth, and serial abuser Eugene Greene.
Greene pleaded guilty to 41 sample charges of buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault against 26 schoolboys between 1965 and 1982, and was jailed for 12 years at Donegal Circuit Court in 2000.
In the Diocese of Raphoe, accusations were leveled against 14 priests, with four clerics convicted of abuse. The others were former priest Paul McDaid, Fr Daniel Doherty and his brother Fr John Doherty.
Not quite what Our Lord had in mind I think when he said “suffer the little children…”
Brady has defended himself against calls for his resignation as Cardinal. He has said that regretted some actions during the inquiry but insisted responsibility for the Smyth scandal does not lie with him.
He has also claimed that as a priest supporting the investigation, even under today’s rules which enforce mandatory reporting, he would not have been the person responsible for alerting authorities.
“I took down everything I heard and referred it back to the people who were in a position to act,” he has said.
The Cardinal has also claimed his role in the internal Church inquiry – officially recorded as “note-taker” – had been deliberately exaggerated and misrepresented in the BBC documentary.
I am afraid I found the testimony given in the documentary all too compelling. This included direct testimony about Brady and two other priests interrogating a 14 year old boy about abuse in the absence of his parents, and Brady requiring the boy to sign an oath that he would speak to no one else on the matter. Brady was not a “note taker”. He took notes as part of his leading role in the investigation and reported back to the bishop.
However, it seems no action was taken by those “in a position to act.” And would that not have been known to the now Cardinal Brady? He could perhaps have asked why the matter had not been referred to the police. He might have asked what had been done to make sure that the police were told. He might have wondered why no charges had been leveled by the police.
What, I wonder idly, would Johann Prassek would have done?
If, as is alleged, Brady knew that Smyth was sexually abusing children, and that no steps had been taken to prosecute him, then he must leave his post at once. If that is true he is a poor and pitiful excuse for a prelate. Brady should have been banging on doors, demanding action. Passing it up the food chain and doing nothing is, as we say in these parts “nihil ad rem.” Neither here nor there.
Curiously, Brady’s “career” within the Church “took off” after the investigation in which Brady took part, and which seemingly produced no tangible results to stop Smyth…
There is a clear pattern of institutional cover up not just in these but many other cases. A common pattern emerges of abusive priest being moved from parish to parish.
I call myself a Catholic, but it may be that is more habit than true doctrinal acceptance. I have very many objections to the stance of the Church in so many areas. I hold views about the nature of religion, God, and Our Lord’s teachings and identity which are inimical to official Church doctrine, and which would have got me burned in days of yore. On many social issues I regard the official teachings of the Church as simply wrong. But I find the certainty of the Church’s rituals and the pageantry of the Mass comforting and interpret them for my own benefits. I think there are a lot of Catholics like me. And there are good men and women in and around the Church still.
Like all the ordinary foots soldiers of the Church I know I am horrified and appalled by both the behaviour and what seems to be the clear cover up of serial abusers.
The Church must be cleansed of this evil, and face the facts. The cover up must be exposed. Any and all of those who assisted in the cover up must pay the price of their own sin, just as evil as those who directly perpetrated these acts. Not just in the hereafter, but now.
By Gildas the Monk