Two Irish Catholic priests based in Australia, continue to hold church ceremonies, despite being at the centre of abuse allegations. In Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady refuses to step down despite allowing Fr Brendan Smyth to remain free to abuse over an 18-year period. Fr Sean Brady, as he was at the time, failed to notify the proper authorities and had young witnesses swear oaths of secrecy to protect guilty parties.
Last night Australia’s ABC television named Fr Finian Egan, based in Sydney, and Fr Paddy Maye, based in Melbourne, in connection with alleged abuse. Church investigations found that Fr Egan groped two girls over several years in the 1980s and Fr Maye forced himself on a vulnerable 31-year-old woman and also groped two sisters over several years in the 1980s. Fr Maye has been told by the Archbishop of Melbourne not to continue working as a priest, but despite this he served mass for St. Patrick’s Day both this year and last year. The women allegedly abused by Fr Egan received a letter from Bishop David Walker of Sydney to apologise for the way they had been treated by Fr Egan. However, a month later, the same Fr Egan was honoured in a church ceremony across the road from the Bishop’s office, to celebrate his 50 years as a priest.
In much the same way, Cardinal Sean Brady pays lip service to the suffering endured by victims of abuse in the church, but takes away from that by remaining in a senior position in the church. The victims, including the One in Four campaign group are very clear that they want him to resign.
Some portion of the blame must also go to the congregation who attend ceremonies celebrated by these men. If you attend such a ceremony, you are acknowledging their right to the position they hold and denying the suffering of the abusers. Perhaps the easy confessional ethic of the Catholic Church is responsible. Just say a word and I shall be healed. Unfortunately many of the victims continue to suffer the effects, long after the word has been said. They want action, not words.