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Enda Kenny should be embarrassed that his attack on the Vatican had so little basis in fact

His eye-catching allegation grabbed headlines around the world. Yet he has still to provide any evidence for it

By on Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Taoiseach said the Holy See attempted to 'frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago' (Photo: PA)

The Taoiseach said the Holy See attempted to 'frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago' (Photo: PA)

On July 20 2011 Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a ferocious speech to the Irish parliament in the wake of the Cloyne Report. He said: “For the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

The Vatican’s response, published on Saturday, says that Kenny “made no attempt to substantiate” this allegation, which it calls “unfounded”. It continues: “When asked, a government spokesperson clarified that Mr Kenny was not referring to any specific incident.”

The Vatican also notes that the reports “contain no evidence to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish state”. It denies that it sought to interfere with any Irish civil processes.

Kenny’s was a serious and clearly defined accusation: he said that, as recently as 2008, the Vatican attempted to frustrate an Irish inquiry into child abuse. Naturally, this statement grabbed headlines all over the world.

Yet it now seems that his most eye-catching allegation has little basis in fact. This should be deeply embarrassing for any statesman. Nor will the cause of child protection be served well by being so slipshod with the facts.

However, the Taoiseach said on Tuesday that his central accusation “still stands”, saying: “This was a statutory commission of enquiry and as such nothing less than full co-operation is required. And anything less than full co-operation, in my view, is unwarranted interference.”

This is clearly a reference to Judge Yvonne Murphy’s attempts to obtain assistance from the Vatican. However, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin – who has vocally called for an explanation of the Taoiseach’s accusation – last weekend referred to that same incident on RTE radio, saying that the Holy See actually said “it would co-operate” and that “very often in the news reporting that last sentence is left out. Why did the Irish government not follow up or insist in some way that this co-operation takes place? That is a question which has to be answered on the Irish side.”

The Taoiseach has yet to provide any evidence that his most extraordinary accusation is true.

  • Thomas

    Sorry campions brag i cant believe you said that, the problem is not only in Cloyne, there has been 3 reports in seperate dioceses so far and many more to come.What about the murphy and ryan reports? There is going to be a report on the raphoe diocese released soon as well. This abuse was happening all around the country, also it has happened abroad were irish missionarys have abused children in africa. I know people that were abused in other dioseces as well.The cloyne report is just the first of many. So dont dare say that all the other dioseces had things in order.Our own cardinal of ireland Sean Brady helped silence victims of Brendan Smith who went on to rape many more children. The catholic church is a disgrace, i worship god through other means than religion because of this..

  • Anonymous

    Thomas – I think you’ve misunderstood me. I am not saying that abuse did not occur in any other Dioceses; it occurred in all of them so far as I am aware. However, the Cloyne Report differs from the other reports in that it shows that at a time when it is widely acknowledged that the other Diocese were getting their houses in order, Bishop Magee in Cloyne was failing to implement the guidelines for abuse which he and the other Irish Bishops has set out.

    That is very sad that you have placed yourself outside religion because of the abuse scandal. That is a matter of great sadness and shame for all those who remain within the Church. However, the sins of the Church do not change the fact that it is the Church founded by Christ and that through it lies the possibility of salvation.

  • Anonymous

    Thomas – I think you’ve misunderstood me. I am not saying that abuse did not occur in any other Dioceses; it occurred in all of them so far as I am aware. However, the Cloyne Report differs from the other reports in that it shows that at a time when it is widely acknowledged that the other Diocese were getting their houses in order, Bishop Magee in Cloyne was failing to implement the guidelines for abuse which he and the other Irish Bishops has set out.

    That is very sad that you have placed yourself outside religion because of the abuse scandal. That is a matter of great sadness and shame for all those who remain within the Church. However, the sins of the Church do not change the fact that it is the Church founded by Christ and that through it lies the possibility of salvation.

  • Guy Picarde

    Yes you are right, The Catholic Church will survive, but it will be different. If, as rumoured, the next Pope is American and the Vatican moves to Washington because of political instability in Italy and the dissolution of the illegal Lateran treaty (1929). Also, European intolerance of Catholicism is growing fast.Radical changes are happening already in the US. I visited a church in the American mid-west where the people brought their own communion bread and held it up in the air during the Consecration to become the Body of Christ. The Mass was automated on self checkout supermarket principles. Communion bread was on sale for 1 cent for those who had not brought their own. The hymns were selected on a Juke Box principle from a slot machine, and the sermon was pre-recorded. The principle is ‘automatic’ automated Catholicism is on the way. Soon it will be possible to have a virtual priest at a virtual Mass for a virtual Jesus Christ.