Brendan Smyth (priest)

Brendan Smyth (1927–1997) was a notorious child molester who used his position as a Catholic priest to obtain access to his victims. During a period of over 40 years, Smyth systematically raped hundreds [cite web | author = RTÉ | title = Only the Devil: The story of Fr Brendan Smyth | url= | accessdate = 2006-10-20 ] of children in parishes in Belfast, Dublin and the United States.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Smyth was member of the Norbertine Catholic religious order. The Norbertines, also known as the "Premonstratensians", which Smyth had joined in 1945, were aware of Smyth's crimes as early as the late 1940s, yet they failed to report him to either the "Garda Síochána" (the Republic of Ireland's police force) or the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the RUC, the police force in Northern Ireland). Instead he was moved from parish to parish and between dioceses whenever allegations were made against him. In some cases, the order did not inform the diocesan bishop that Smyth had a history of sexual abuse and should be kept away from children.

His arrest in 1994 led to the collapse of a Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition government when the incompetent handling of an extradition request from the RUC by the Irish Attorney-General's office led to a further delay of some months in Smyth facing trial. An award-winning UTV "Counterpoint" programme on the scandal by journalist Chris Moore, followed up by a book, accused the head of the Norbertines and the Archbishop of Armagh of mishandling the case, and the Norbertines of negligence and a failure to tell others of his longstanding child molestation, enabling Smyth to sexually abuse large numbers of children freely for 40 years. When Smyth died in prison in 1997, the Norbertines held his funeral early in the morning, and covered his grave with concrete to deter vandalism. In the aftermath of the scandal, Ireland's Mass attendance rate plummeted from 68 percent to 48 percent in less than a decade. It continues to fall to this day.

On October 27, 2005, one of Smyth's victims succeeded in having the title 'Reverend' removed from his gravestone [ [ Abuse priest has 'Rev' title removed from grave ] -] .

ee also

*Roman Catholic sex abuse cases
*Roman Catholic priests accused of sex offenses
*The Ferns Report
*Crimen sollicitationis

Further reading

*cite book|last=Moore|first=Chris|title=Betrayal of Trust: The Father Brendan Smyth Affair and the Catholic Church|year=1995|publisher=Marino|location=Dublin|id=ISBN 1-86023-027-X


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