They Took a Vow of Secrecy?! May 19, 2010

They Took a Vow of Secrecy?!

Everytime it seems like the Catholic Church child-raping scandal can’t possibly get any worse, some new story turns up.

In 1975, young victims of sexual abuse were told to sign “vows of silence” that they wouldn’t speak out against Father Brendan Smyth. Cardinal Sean Brady was in the room when that happened and said nothing.

Now that those children are speaking out, Brady has been discovered, and this was his response:

On Tuesday, he said he would continue as leader of Ireland’s Catholics.


… Brady said he had decided to stay in his job “because I want to maintain the momentum towards better child safeguarding”.

He added: “Not only that, but also the momentum towards renewal of the faith which is essential, which is a big challenge here.

“I feel that I have to do what I’m called to do, what I’m placed here to do.

“I am also asking for help to do it, I’m not saying that I’m the greatest or anything like that.”

Not the “greatest”? Not even close. This is the best the Catholic Church has to offer?

Brady wasn’t a pedophile himself but he helped cover it up. And he gets to keep his job. As reader Jon writes in an email, “the fact that he protected pedophile priests for over 30 years makes him equally guilty, and equally vile in my opinion.”

These stories are so horrible that I can’t even look at Catholics in my own life the same way anymore.

I keep wondering why they would still remain a member of a Church that condoned child-raping for so long and then handled it as poorly as they did. Yes, they say this is a relatively rare occurrence and the church does so many other good things, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that all this is really happening. It’s not just an isolated incident with some random priest. Many, many, many priests were involved, the Vatican knew about it, and they all tried to keep it a secret for decades.

They made these children sign a vow of silence.

It’s sickening that anyone could be on their side.

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  • Trace

    “because I want to maintain the momentum towards better child safeguarding”.

    That is rich.

    “Not only that, but also the momentum towards renewal of the faith which is essential, which is a big challenge here”

    Gee, I wonder why…

  • synergy

    I think he wanted to maintain his trajectory towards archbishop, cardinal, and beyond. There is a lot of money to be made higher up in the church hierarchy, afterall.

  • Bob

    This happened in America, as well.

    Check out the film, “Boyhood Shadows: I Swore I’d Never Tell” – it’s about victims of molestation by priests, and the journeys they’ve made to recover/cope. (Disclosure: one of them is a co-worker.)

  • Krissy

    seriously Ireland, charge this guy with conspiracy or something

  • Christi

    I wonder how many good deeds it takes to erase molestation and rape?

  • Vivian

    This is so much worse for him to cover up. A pedophile is a sick person and has extreme issues. This priest is not a predator, but someone who is “normal” and ALLOWING it… so much worse. That’s like, “Hey, I know this guy is a sociopath and he has urges to murder, I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t tell anyone he does.”

    Crazy! Psycho! So glad I am out of the Catholic Church and their manipulative ways.

  • Angie

    The Catholic magisterium has been so poisoned by power and impunity that it refuses to take action when evil occurs. Brady and his ilk disgust me.

    I’m with Vivian. It’s such a relief to be free from Catholicism.

  • There are no words to describe how sick this makes me feel.

    Whenever I have the thought that, ‘Hey, religion isn’t so bad’… all I have to do is think of the Catholics and their child molestation scandals or the Mormons and the amounts of money they spent on Prop. 8 in CA, (which could have fed thousands of hungry children for years) and it snaps me back into the reality that all religion is dangerous because it leads otherwise intelligent, kind, and moral people into doing evil things.

  • andrew

    I agree that I can’t look at catholics the same way(especially the ones I know). Catholic is a shameful word to me now.

    I want to cry.

  • Bob


    There are times where I wonder about the ‘… otherwise intelligent, kind, and moral people into doing evil things.’

    While there are people who readily ascribe their stance on issues like California’s Proposition 8 to their religious beliefs, it seems to me that the fear/hatred dynamic must already exist in order for religion to exploit it.

    Religious dogma thus becomes an excuse for a ‘pre-existing condition’ of intellectual inflexibility.

  • JD

    I didn’t think my opinion of the heirarchy could sink lower. That’s the problem with religion in general, organized religion, the more organized, the worse it can be. You have a flock that believes in eternity, heaven or hell, so it’s easy to intimidate people into silence, for one, the shame of victimhood, for another, the possible threat of excommunication or being declared hell bound or whatever their specific term is.

    I do think there should be some secular justice intervention here, but Ireland is probably too steeped in Catholicism to make a serious play at punishment.

    I think the only answer is to convince more of the flock to quit the Catholic Church in one way or another. The longer this drags out, the more complicit that I’m going to see the laity in all this. The church is basically aiding and abbetting in child molestation, how they still have any resemblance of moral authority is way beyond me.

  • Richard P.

    I think this is why ridicule is the greatest weapon we have.
    How can you reason with this?

  • Bob


    You forgot the built-in Super-Duper All-Encompassing Cosmic Wah-Wah Get Out of Jail Free Card.

    “Praise Jesus, I’m Saved!”

  • DGKnipfer

    This is so much worse for him to cover up. A pedophile is a sick person and has extreme issues. This priest is not a predator, but someone who is “normal” and ALLOWING it… so much worse. That’s like, “Hey, I know this guy is a sociopath and he has urges to murder, I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t tell anyone he does.”

    I agree 100%. It’s bad enough when mentally ill people cause suffering because of their sickness, but for somebody else to intentionally hide it and allow it to be perpetuated is infinitely worse. It’s a conspiracy to cause harm to others, to willfully and intentionally perpetuate untold harm to children and families simply to shield your institution from possible bad press. There is no hell damning enough for the perpetrators of this foul conspiracy.


    I was raised Catholic so I kind of understand their position. The Catholic Church sees its self as a separate “governmental” entity. This entity sees itself above all of political entities. As a Catholic, we saw ourselves better than other people. We were “special”. Of course this was very egotistical, self-centered thinking. I’m glad to say I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian for that matter. My wish is that the Irish government and all other governments prosecute to the fullest extent these people that hide behind their robes.

  • George

    “I feel that I have to do what I’m called to do, what I’m placed here to do.”

    Called to cover up one of the most atrocious acts a human can commit?

  • With regard to all the “good” the Catholic church does, I think of it like this: if a father is a great man publicly, and gives tons of money each year to charity, helps out at homeless shelters, and takes care of orphans for free in his spare time, but then he goes home and rapes his own children every night, that makes him a pedophile. None of those “good” things he does can cancel out the fact that he is a rapist and a pedophile, and he should be punished and removed from his position of authority over said children. End of story.

  • Gwenny

    While I wasn’t force to take a vow of silence, I was threatened with eternal damnation by the priest who heard my confession that my stepfather was sexually abusing me if I ever told anyone else. I was twelve at the time. I left the church shortly after that, partly because the priest told me I was lying and that I should come back to confession until I had committed a sin I could confess. I figured if having sex with your dad wasn’t a big enough sin to confess, I wasn’t capable of sinning.

    It would take a decade for me to tell anyone, and then only because he was marrying a woman with teenage daughters.

  • Raven

    Every time some new piece of information comes out, I just feel physically ill. I was raised Catholic and my whole family is Catholic. I can’t look at the faith or its followers in the same way again. EVER! The only way you could get me to step foot into a Catholic church is if someone dies. I will walk in, pay my respects, and leave and that’s it!

    And for the record, any church that has enough money to have their own dang country, churches practically dipped in gold, and billions of dollars of assets is not doing enough good in the world. Jesus had nothing and that’s what a church should have. All their money should go to charity and they should have no or minimal assets and money for themselves. Disgusting.

  • PrimeNumbers

    When does he go to jail?

  • vivian


    Sorry to hear that happening to you. It is disheartening to hear. That priest should be clubbed. What a complete ass. I’m glad you knew better!

  • Catholics come in only two stripes: child rapists and child rape enablers.

    To anyone making the argument that not all can be judged by the actions of a few I say: You don’t have to change your beliefs in Jehovah and Jesus, but unless you leave the organization you are an accomplice, you are evil.

  • fiddler

    Wow. harsh, uncompromising, and direct! I agree completely.

  • gwen

    The church came out and said that child abuse must be reported WHERE IT IS THE LAW TO DO SO. It is NOT the law in every state or country that the religious are mandated reporters of abuse. So in the states where they DON’T have to report it, it will be business as usual!

  • Roxane

    I am genuinely sad to say that I think much less of a woman who has been one of my closest friends for ten years because her support of her church is rock-solid.

  • Gib

    I think this is a great time to mention the youtube song by Tim Minchin called “The Pope Song”.

    It covers a lot of this in relation to the pope. It’s worth it (not suitable for work). Search on youtube for “Tim Minchin Pope Song”.

  • Anonymous

    In other news, the site Count Me Out has just topped 10,000 people who have completed a Declaration of Defection from the RCC.

  • Heidi

    I absolutely agree that the enablers are worse than the perpetrators. They are FAR worse. They practically pimped out all those little kids.

    That whole church is broken, and it may be beyond repair. Catholics need to stop giving the church money until/unless they do find a way to scrub away the scum. Starting with Pope Evil.

    @Gwenney: I’m so sorry for your pain and suffering. Did the woman still marry him?

  • Josha

    @Gwenny: I am sorry you had to go through something horrible like that, made worse by the feeling that you deserved punishment if you were open about it.

    These priests are in a position of authority and supposedly moral leaders for their communities. Instead these priests have used their position to force abused children into silence. Children who have been told by their moral leaders that speaking out about abuse is the wrong thing to do. Moral leaders who have taught these children that doing the wrong thing can lead to an eternity of unimaginable suffering. To me silencing these children is its own form of mental abuse. It keeps the children from finding support when they most need it, it makes them feel worthless, it further takes any power out of kids hands when they’ve already lost a right to their own body.

    I am a former Catholic and I know the good that the church does and the good people involved. But it seems very clear to me that the Catholic Church values priests and its own reputation more than it values the lives of ordinary people. The Church continues to protect and keep in power priests and bishops who have covered up the abuse of children while excommunicating and punishing feminist nuns, a nun who felt that the life of a woman was worth more than the fetus in her uterus, a young girl’s doctor who gave her an abortion after being raped, and much more. Yes, we get it, caring about the lives of women is so much worse than raping children. Good message you’re sending there “moral authority”.

  • Andrew

    Wow that is some inflamatory rhetoric right there. I don’t view myself as any of those things you described other than being Catholic. You are completely wrong. Would it be better to leave the United States (or whatever country you are from) if you did not like what was happening politically, socially morally etc. or work to change those things for the better?

    @Those commenters who now somehow think less of the Catholics you know-
    That’s lame. Do you think that the average Catholic had some inside knowledge on this scandal before the stories broke? We were horrified like you when we read and heard these stories.

  • @Andrew
    If the average Catholic is horrified by all this, as you say, where’s the outrage? Where’s the condemnation? Where are the calls from the faithful to have those responsible arrested, and the Pope investigated for his role?

    It’s not enough for people to sit at home and be horrified, they need to speak out. As long as the average Catholic remains silent, there will always be a sense that they tacitly approve or, at the very least, are happy to turn a blind eye to child rape when it has been perpetrated by senior members of their “club”.

    Is that not a good enough reason to think less of Catholics at the moment?

  • Heidi

    @Andrew: Physical relocation is a lot different than leaving an organization you have joined voluntarily. But refugees flee corrupt regimes all the time.

  • fraggle

    Anonymous- you beat me to it with countmeout! Anyone who was baptised in Ireland here who isn’t off the books already- I can’t encourage defection highly enough. Get your name off their lists, give them one less “sheep” to count in their “flock”.

    I really wish I could have been surprised when I first saw this story.
    I really wish I could have been outraged.
    I wish that I lived in a country where the legal system would step forward to arrest and appropriately censure rapists and rape-enablers, regardless of profession.
    I wish that these very same people didn’t consider themselves moral authorities, condemning and scapegoating innocent people.
    I wish they didn’t have supporters who believed their lies and continue to put money in the baskets every Sunday to support these people.
    I wish that this same organisation didn’t seem to think it acceptable to attempt to make the schools they STILL run pay out to help cover the costs of compensation to their abuse victims.
    I wish I felt something other than resigned disgust at this.

  • Sandra

    “safeguarding”? Doesn’t look to me as if he’s been doing that!

  • Andrew

    @Distant Angel
    It’s not enough. And what you said is not true. Things are being done. Research everything that is going on within the Catholic Church at the moment not just the scandal. As for the Pope there is no proof he did anything wrong as a bishop speculation, hearsay but nothing that would fly in a court of law.

  • One who cares

    There is a special group of Catholics whose  job is to expose and remove those people who aren’t serving and are abusing their roles. It is being addressed, but for the sake of those catholics who are doing what is right and protecting them from the persecution by the ones who are doing wrong, not many know about it. These people are putting their lives on the line, and it goes much deeper than you know. So please, do not condemn all catholics for the ones who do not have the right to call themselves a catholic.

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