The 1975 oath of secrecy extracted from two child sex abuse victims to which Cardinal Brady was a witness is simply another vivid and catastrophic illustration of the consequences that arise when there is no accountability within an organisation and the vanity of leaders takes absolute precedence over the vitality and integrity of its mission. What other organisation in the world facilitates the continued incumbency of a challenged leader merely on his own say-so with the echo of a few sychophants' audible in the background? If there is no process of validation how is the calibre, acceptability and trust of a leader to be judged, tested and respected, especially when the mandate to lead is compromised or impaired?
This oath of secrecy was not time limited. It does not seem to have been demanded to facilitate the expedited removal of Fr Smyth's priestly faculties. The basis of it was not attributable to a penitent making a Confession, which is legitimately guarded by secrecy. What purpose could this infinite oath possibly have had other than to enable Fr Smyth evade the process of criminal justice?
This oath meant that one of the most heinous child sex abusers in Ireland enjoyed the freedom to rape and sodomise innocent children for a further 19 years without Cardinal Brady or Bishop MacKiernan, who resigned as Bishop of Kilmore in October 1998, over a year after Fr Smyth's sudden death, apparently not making the slightest intervention to have Smyth apprehended. Fr Smyth might have abused for the rest of his life had it not been for the forensically researched 1994 UTV television documentary that exposed him - a programme the making of which was also impeded by self-serving bishops' protecting their interests and reputations.
The knowledge that is now in the public domain places immense constraints of credibility on Cardinal Brady to provide the calibre and agility of leadership that a Church dealing with crisis now urgently needs. If he has been granted the gift of empathy and introspection with the same lavish abundance as he was granted the faculty of secrecy and the discipline of obedience, he will resign promptly and graciously, perhaps with deep personal regret. He would recognise the limitations that this matter imposes on him and on the the role of Primate. He would make way for another qualified candidate whose legacy is less burdened by history and the chains of secrecy.