March 16th, 2010
08:29 PM ET

Cardinal accused of ducking blame over abuse probe

Ireland's top Catholic cardinal is using the "Nuremberg defense" in the face of public outrage at his role 35 years ago in investigating one of the country's most notorious child-abusing priests, an activist said Tuesday.

Cardinal Sean Brady has been under fire over the investigation into the Rev. Brendan Smyth.

Brady's office said Tuesday that the cardinal - then a priest and teacher with a doctorate in canon law - had been asked to investigate two complaints against Smyth in 1975, but had no decision-making power. He reported his findings to Bishop Francis McKiernan, his office said, and McKiernan recommended Smyth get psychiatric help.

But John Kelly, the founder of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said Brady should not have remained silent about what he learned in the course of investigating Smyth, who was later convicted of dozens of counts of child abuse in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. He died in prison.

"He's basically using the Nuremberg defense - he was carrying out orders," Kelly said, in reference to the justification many Nazis used in their war crimes trials after World War II.

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