By Breda Heffernan

Thursday March 18 2010

“I will never directly or indirectly, by means of a nod, or of a word, by writing, or in any other way, and under whatever type of pretext, even for the most urgent and most serious cause (even) for the purpose of a greater good, commit anything against this fidelity to the secret, unless a…dispensation has been expressly given to me by the Supreme Pontiff.”

THIS is the oath of secrecy the child victims of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth were told to sign during their meetings with Cardinal Sean Brady 35 years ago.

Crimen Solicitationis, the Latin for ‘Crime of Solicitation’, is a secret 1962 Vatican document which only came to light in recent years. It instructed bishops how to handle allegations of sex abuse against priests in their diocese and set out an oath of secrecy.

All those involved in the 1975 investigation into Smyth, Cardinal Brady — then a 36-year-old priest — the children who had been abused and Smyth himself, were required to sign the oath. To break the vow would lead to excommunication from the Catholic Church. The document was written by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Inquisition.

It was only to be circulated among bishops and it demanded that all parties to an investigation keep a “perpetual silence”.

Scripted in dense legal language, the document sets out the steps to be taken for investigating crimes of solicitation against priests.

Once the tribunal has reached its conclusion, it lays out a number of different courses. If there is no foundation to the allegations, all documents relating to the accusation must be destroyed.

If it is not possible to determine if a crime has occurred, the documents should be stored in the diocesan archives to be re-opened if another allegation is made in the future.


Should the tribunal find there are “indications of a crime serious enough but not yet sufficient to institute an accusatorial process”, a check should be kept on the “morals” of the priest.

In the event where it is certain the priest has offended, he is tried under canon law.

Since its unearthing in 2003, opinion has been split on whether the document provides the “smoking gun” to prove there was a conspiracy by the Vatican to cover-up the problem of paedophile priests.

The Irish Bishops’ Conference last week said the document had been consistently misrepresented in the media and that it was never the intention of the oath to prevent victims from reporting crimes to the civil authorities.

One canon lawyer has said an oath of secrecy is not unusual in church investigations and is not specific to sex abuse cases. And although those taking part in the investigation are required to remain silent while it is being carried out, they can report the abuse to police before this.

However Paddy Doyle, author of ‘The God Squad’ and a survivor of institutional abuse, last night described the oath of secrecy as “chilling”.

“It’s tough enough to read it as an adult because of the language that is used, never mind putting that to a terrified child. How are they supposed to understand that?

“My first reaction is absolute disgust, it has to be some sort of criminal offence. In effect, what you are doing is… the bishops and priests are dragging children into becoming criminals by making them collude,” he told the Irish Independent.

– Breda Heffernan

Irish Independent


27 Responses to “Revealed: the oath Brady, Smyth and the children swore”

  1. Carol says:

    …to anyone, under any circumstances – what the hell else can this oath mean???

  2. Carol says:

    How can anyone say that “it was never the intention of the oath to prevent victims from reporting crimes to the civil authorities.”??? It states very clearly “never” “in any way” “under any pretext” – there’s no subclause excusing reports to civil authorities. It literally threatens the victim with eternal damnation for ANY disclosure.

  3. Martin John Petty-O'Callaghan says:

    “You were conned” – If you signed that document through fear of being excommunicated from the Catholic Church, you were conned, and the very people laying the document before you knew very well they were conning you, why? Is it not the case that even having signed, and then for whatever reason, go on to get Divorced, you would automatically be excommunicated, as I was when I divorced in 1992. Yes, you most certainly were conned. But as with everything else with the Catholic Church, you would be a fool to believe anything they say from the Pope down.

    They reached their “Sell-by-Date” centuries ago. For a long time now it has only been about the money.

    They have no business using the name of Christ. They bring nothing but misery to all they frighten/brainwash.

  4. Delma says:

    Reading of rage & sadness in peoples messages,clearly justice alone is not enough. The unravelling of generations of lies & deceit,touches everyone’s mind.
    Perhaps children & indeed most adults weren’t supposed to comprehend that document.I suspect it served a dual purpose, to instil fear- silencing people & for wielding ultimate power, the aphrodisiac for paedophiles. Power itself their ultimate turn on,vulnerable children their perfect target.
    With regards to Jewish people, had it not been for their continuous fight as a group, history would have swept their plight under the rug.

  5. Paddy says:

    Emil. I’m not away or anyone challenging the gagging order imposed by the Redress Board – it is something I’ve been planning to do as I feel and have felt for a long time that such an order flies in the face of all forms of justice. One must also ask the question: Why the secrecy? I’ve stated time and time again that it’s on secrecy that abuse thrives. That, at this stage is a self evident truth.

    As for the Pope’s letter! I can’t see that it will change a single thing. Previous Popes knew that abuse was happening around the world and did nothing. If an apology does come it will be far too late for far to may people and in my view, not worth the paper it’s written on. Paddy.

  6. Paddy says:

    That is entirely due to their faith in what you’ve written and what I’ve published by you on this site. Perhaps you should contact Ann and Sharon about an email sent to me. Paddy.

  7. Paddy says:

    Barry, people who have supported you in various ways, financially and otherwise are now having second thoughts. You don’t have to preach at me. I suggest as I have done to others, if you don’t like what I say, go ahead and put up your own website and lets see what you really stand for. I’ve given you more space than you’ve got anywhere and am happy to do so. I’m not trying to speak for anyone, that is evidenced by repeated statements I’ve made in the media and elsewhere. This website has existed for ten years now. It is THE ONLY ONE THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO HAVE THEIR SAY. Even you agreed with that. I presume you still do. Paddy

  8. Emil BELL says:

    Hi Paddy

    Has any of the “Survivors” challenged the gag orders imposed by the courts (church) when they are compensated (financially) for the abuses? I’m seriously considering challenging the gag orders imposed on us when we are compensated, financially.

    Looking forward to the content of the pope’s letter.

    Have a nice day!

    Emil BELL

  9. Andrew says:

    Well said Paddy. Brady and his bunch must be subject to the full rigours of the law … dawn raids, searches, intense questioning, overnight stays, followed by charges. And no window dressing … we’ve had enough of dresses and amices, albs, cintures, maniples, stoles and the effen chasubles!

  10. Redmond says:

    Forcing a child not of legal age, to enter into a contract of secrecy can in itsself only be a matter of serious crime. A second crime to cover & evade the first. No contract except a military contract allows a citizen to sign away their legal rights.

    Surely the legal brains can come up with the detail to enable prececution.


  11. FXR says:

    I don´t imagine for a minute that oath was made up there and then on the day. It looks more like it was designed in the Vatican. How many more children around the world were made to swear the same oath

  12. Tony Duggan says:

    What concerns me in some ways is the way that the church and senior Irish politicians seem to be in league in the constant attempts to cover up, leave the issue with the church etc. This is the default position which allows the church to muddy the waters as far as possible even when caught out badly.

    I think the cover up is still going on.

    There are many paedophile priests being hidden in various retreats and whose identifies are being kept from authorities.

    The catholic church has extensive files on canonical investigations- we’ve seen the church admit recently via Brady that a ‘record keeper’ is at these canonical investigations.

    That implies that within Irish diocesan records there are files identifying these priests.

    If the state was serious about dealing with the church’s paedophiles it would have seized those files.

    They are evidence of serious crimes and I won’t believe the state is getting to grips with this mad middle eastern cult until such time as it seizes the church’s own records and begins proceedings to have the paedos hidden around the UK extradited back to Ireland to face criminal charges.

  13. Robert Northall says:

    This is a Facebook Causes site!

    “Break the Silence and Bring Cardinal Sean Brady and The Irish Catholic Church to Justice”

    I Can’t believe it only has 8 members!!!

    Come on people show some support at

  14. Portia says:

    From the Holy men of “god”

    “When a sinner had “blasphemed the holy name of god”,
    or when he had perhaps told some truth about the local priest, it was customary to apply the holy trinity.!!!!!!

    The Iron mask was heated in an open fire until red hot, then put upon his head.

    The scourge, also red hot, was then applied to his back.

    After the mask had cooled, it was removed from the sinner, taking skin (and usually eyeballs) with it.

    The prisoner’s mouth was then opened and red hot pincers were used to remove the prisoner’s tongue.

    It is interesting to note that the Holy Trinity was designed not to cause death, so that the maimed, blinded and mute prisoner could live out his days as a burden to his family and as a testimony to what happens when one lets his tongue wag too freely.”

    Now they use psychological torture to keep tongues quiet.

  15. Robert Northall says:

    The Pope has covered up Abuse “Himself” and communicated an Edict that Reporting Rape or Torture would result in Excommunication.

    The Pope also introduced a statute of limitation within the Vatican for Rape and Sexual abuse of 10 years after the victim reaches 18 and an Edict that these events where to be Kept secret until that time.


    If you read the links in this article it is even more damming on the Pope.

    Maybe it is time for him to resign; as he is the Architect of the whole notion of cover-up!

  16. Anne says:

    Well said paddy!!!!.. It’s absolutely disgusting. How can any of them walk around these churches with their heads held high,preaching the way they do?!?..
    Well paddy the march is dewing closer now!
    Take care everyone and see you there!

  17. mmaguire says:

    If this were Israel and they were Nazis, then there would be no question on what would and should be done. The Church, by its actions, has shown that, regardless of its actions to hide behind its own form of self applied laws cannot remain superior to the citizens of an independent state.

    Otherwise we have to recognise a truth that Ireland has still to gain true independence with governance that can truly say that its primary actions are to represent its people.


  18. Emmie says:

    I agree, Paddy, just how bad does it have to get before someone realizes these ppl are NOT above the laws of the land? Of course, they would tell us that God’s law is above that of any, but where does it say in the teachings of any of the Christian (or other religions) that ppl may be beaten, raped, emotionally damaged and deprived of their childhood and that those who committed these offences are prefectly free to do so as they are men of the cloth? Another mystery I suppose!
    I was not brought up in an industrial school but my childhood was ruined by various kinds of abuse committed by a family well known the the Catholic Church in England and there were plenty of cover ups. Yes, it’s despicable. One day, someone MUST hear the voices of the ppl of Ireland and follow you into setting children (and adults) free.

  19. Angry says:

    Brian Cowen , the Taoiseach valiantly attempted to distance himself from the implosion presently taking place in the church in Ireland, stating simply, and I mean SIMPLY, that these were “church matters”.

    Not so Brian , the RAPING of children within the church environs, and the SUPPRESSION of such rapes , by secret order, confidentiality or ANY other such nonsense the church indulges itself in to HIDE these CRIMES, are matters for the STATE, and GARDAI.

    For the Taoiseach to show publicly that he is unconcerned with the criminal activities of these religious sects, is he sublimely stating that he is prepared to maintain the staus quo on the basis that no overt action emerges affronting the “traditional” association of the State with these religious cult`s and sect`s.?? Does his bald statement of “EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW FOR ALL” hold some hidden meaning .? Thus if circumstances beyond the church`s control unearth crimes of the church, are they simply to be questioned, dismissed, if possible, and ONLY punished when their action`s become glaring through exposure.

    Unfortunately, as history show`s us, any minority of adverse individual instances, when unchecked, is sufficent to upset the social structure. And nowhere has this been more evident in recent years than in Ireland. There can be no evasion of the PLAIN FACT that compulsion on the part of the State to act against this church is lacking. Pure mentality easily becomes trivial in it`s grasp of fact, more so, it appears, if you hail from Offaly.! The State must stamp it`s foot on this “special licence” which this church appears to operate on, it organises itself within a particular field of action which runs contrary to the laws of the State. The State must show that this church can no longer , with impunity, transcend all governmental boundaries which applies to it`s cizitens, but exempts the church from accountability, leaving it to practice the imposition of subordinate elements to further stretch it`s own purpose in masking the crimes it`s accused of against children. These are grave State and Nation matters of importance, and NOT as the Taoiseach tells us , internal church matters.

  20. Angry says:

    As Ratzo pointed out this week the church in Ireland has been “”SEVERELY SHAKEN”, but not stirred.

    Mine`s a LARGE GLENMORANGIE Joeboy, and a pinch of salt with it, as I await to read your “letter” which will bring me , REPENTENCE, HEALING AND RENEWAL.?

    REPENTENCE, HEALING, RENEWAL.? As the church “can do no wrong”, thats the repentence bit out of the way, it`ll take more than a sticking plaster to heal us, and as for renewal, surely the word sphincter comes to mind.

    The cesspit of inanity which this church presently represents, and that,s from the vatican down require`s more than a “letter” from somebody who himself is implicated in abuse scandals now sweeping Germany.

  21. Angry says:

    Ratzo`s “letter” arrives today, or he`s signing it today.

    But WHO is it going to .? Is it Diarmuid Martin, or is it, Sean CLING-ON Brady.?

    As Diarmuid Martin is the only clean pair of hands in town, it SHOULD go to him.

    If it goes to Sean CLING-ON Brady, then it`s GOODNIGHT VIENNA TO RATZO.

    Is there a LARGE CHEQUE accompanying this letter.?

    If not, then RETURN TO SENDER. Words are CHEAP. WHERE`S ME DOSH .

  22. Angry says:

    “””Collars, red caps, ermine, rings and all the trappings of these “princes of the church” should not stop the police investigating this despicable cover-up. Paddy.””

    Paddy , you forgot ,”””HOUSEBOYS AND HOUSEKEEPERS”””.! They too, must go.?

  23. Martha says:

    Paddy, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who takes the Catholic Church seriously can forget about evolving into a human being.

  24. Martha says:

    “To break the vow would lead to excommunication from the Catholic Church.”


  25. Martha says:

    “I will never directly or indirectly, by means of a nod, or of a word, by writing, or in any other way, and under whatever type of pretext, even for the most urgent and most serious cause (even) for the purpose of a greater good, commit anything against this fidelity to the secret, unless a…dispensation has been expressly given to me by the Supreme Pontiff.”

    Nod or wink? wink-wank, who’s looking anyway!

    What child – never mind an adult – could make any sense out of that drivel!!!

    Why can’t those wankers just go off into a corner and jerk themselves off – like any other unwanted foetus!

  26. Portia says:

    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Inquisition.

    And what did these boys do during the Inquisition?


    Noses, nipples and breasts pulled off with red hot pinchers.”

    The oath was only there to keep the truth of abuse hidden.

    As for threatening us with excommunication, that was a horrible con artists trick.

    And for those who do not know The Jesuits pulled the nipples of girls in the Vietnam war- all documented and soon to be revealed.

  27. Paddy says:

    How bad must things get before these “men of the cloth” realise that what they’ve been doing for years and years amounts to a criminal offence.

    Heads, mitres and other bits and pieces need to roll quickly. It seems that resigning or ‘stepping aside’ are words that don’t belong in the book of perpetrators of abuse against children, particularly when they are in the confines of the ‘religious life’

    Collars, red caps, ermine, rings and all the trappings of these “princes of the church” should not stop the police investigating this despicable cover-up. Paddy.