Young and old alike were signing a national petition launched on Friday by concerned local people in Donegal calling on Cardinal Sean Brady to resign from his post as Primate of All Ireland.
The online version of the petition has already been by people within Ireland, but also in England, Spain and the United States. Aside from individual concerns, no specific organization or group was behind the initiative, which comes at a time of social and spiritual uncertainty in the county and the country.
Entitled the "Peoples' Petition," the campaign was launched in the town of Falcarragh in the western part of the county, an area where multiple instances of child sex abuse by priests has taken place over the years, especially at the hands of convicted pedophile and former priest Eugene Green, found to have abused more than 26 children.
Sean Hillen one of the leaders behind the initiative, explained the reason for what he termed the "Peoples’ Petition."
“With so much uncertainty about the future, probably more than at any other time in its history - Donegal , indeed Ireland – requires leadership of the highest moral level, but Cardinal Brady has failed to do that, has let people down badly and needs to leave or be removed from his position,” he said.
“Just as people spoke out strongly on civil matters with the recent, ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay,’ campaign, so ordinary people are speaking out on matters that touch on the spiritual. This petition launched today calls for the immediate voluntary resignation of Cardinal Brady, whose failure to act in an acceptable moral fashion, contributed to the continued sexual abuse of a number of young Irish boys and girls for many years by Father Brendan Smyth.”
“For a young, innocent boy such as Brendan Boland – barely 14 – to be questioned so crudely and in such a humiliatingly fashion by 36-year-old priest, Sean Brady (since promoted to Cardinal), on behalf of an organization which has no legal basis to do so about his own sexual abuse by Smyth without even the boy’s parents being allowed in the room shows a severe lack of moral decency,” Hillen added.
“For Father Brady, (now Cardinal), also a canon lawyer, to then make the boy swear to secrecy on a Bible and not even inform the boy’s parents or relevant civil or legal authorities about the abuse, displays standards of morality that are simply unacceptable in any normal society. Even though Boland give exact details of the other abused children and their addresses and contact details, Cardinal Brady nor his colleagues neglected to notify any parents or social protection agencies. As a result of this action, or more accurately, inaction, a number of vulnerable young boys and girls were abused for many more years by Smyth, a member of the Norbertine Order, leaving them in severe mental and physical pain and emptying them of any sense of self-respect well into adulthood.”
Hillen continued, “In signing this petition, many people here in Donegal – ironically, where Green, another convicted pedophile priest abused more than 26 children – are showing just how deeply disturbed they are by the corroborated evidence that has emerged about the Cardinal’s behavior and the anguish these children went through. Smyth ended up abusing more than 100 children in Ireland, the US and elsewhere. Cardinal Brady vowed three years ago to resign if any action by him contributed to the sexual abuse of children. He should follow through on that promise. While the Church, as we have learned recently, may have silenced certain priests from speaking out, it should not be allowed to silence the voice of the ordinary people of Donegal and Ireland upon whose very support it exists.”
"We cannot stand by and just be dictated to, whether that is by a priest or a bishop," said Joanna Quigley, who signed the petition. "People must stand up and speak out and this petition is one way to do that. We must take it upon ourselves to protect our children. It is our duty. After what the Cardinal allowed to happen to those poor kids - including 14-year-old Brendan Boland - who were so badly abused. Not doing anything to stop the sexual abuse is utterly unacceptable. He must resign."
Click here to view the petition.