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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.

  • Anonymous

    He’s a disgrace and launched this vicious attack to save his own neck over the closure of a hospital which he had vowed would not be closed.

    Sadly there seems to be an institutional attitude of scape-goating in Ireland with the all media outlets and organisations looking to the Vatican to take the blame and not prepared to do the soul searching required to acknowledge that the evil that occurred was of their own making and that they were wilfully complicit.

    Also is it just me, or does he look remarkably like Louis Walsh? Perhaps Louis would have had better judgment than to make such unfounded accusations.

  • Anonymous

    The Vatican and Ireland’s top Catholic officials are the one’s that should be embarressed

  • Robert Hoatson

    You characterize the speech of the Irish Prime Minister as “ferocious.”  What a compliment!  His words, appropriately, attempted to characterize the “ferocious” sexual abuse endured by children from priests, deacons, and religious men and women, and the “ferocious” cover-up, lies, and deceit perpetrated by the Church for centuries.  Enda Kenny should feel vindicated by the characterization of his speech as “ferocious.”  It’s about time somebody in leadership became “ferocious” on behalf of innocent children.

    Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.
    Co-founder and President
    Road to Recovery, Inc.
    West Orange, NJ
    road-to-recovery.org

  • Anonymous

    It’s rhetoric like yours and Enda Kelly’s that is so counter-productive. You just throw massive, sweeping soundbites that are huge generalisations for what has been a significant yet minority problem. This immediately generates a siege mentality in the accused and little gets achieved. If you actually dealt with the detail and acknowledged that whilst parts of the Church have allowed terrible things to happen and then dealt with them in a totally inadequate way, but that this is not reflective of the Church in general; then would actually be a far better chance of positive change.  

  • Anonymous

    Catholic Herald – Company paper = company line, but no one buys the spin anymore.

  • Anonymous

    The immorality,the elitism.the dysfunuality,the narcisnum,obsession with material things etc. in the catholic church is well known throughout the world.The sexual abuse problem and the coverup by the hierarchy is endemic, systemic and universal.Thank God for people like Enda Kenny who have the guts to point this out. He needs our support

  • Anonymous

    Even when he’s lying?

  • Anonymous

    You’ve clearly not read The Tablet.

    Surprising as it may sound to those who come across the Herald via a newsfeed or suchlike, if you read the Herald regularly you would see that it tends to be concerned with truth; so within the pages of the paper you will find critiques of Church practice and suggestions for change where change is permissible.

    Refreshingly you also have a paper whose axioms are explicit (see the word Catholic in the title) and reports in the main on those matters on which it is qualified to comment. This is very different to most of the secular press.

  • Anonymous

    50458000 – If I was to publicly accuse you of domestic abuse at some point in the last 3 years and you asked me for an example and I said that I wasn’t referring to any particular incident; would you consider this a satisfactory response?

  • http://twitter.com/NigelCowley Nigel Cowley

    Ignorance like what is shown 

  • http://twitter.com/NigelCowley Nigel Cowley

    Ignorance like what is shown in this article is no help to anyone, most especially the victims. Read the Murphy Report and tell me how the pope and his cronies were not involved. Watch “Sex Crimes and the Vatican”. Ditto. Your position is one of breathtaking stupidity. If you want your church to survive, stop digging the hole.

  • Anonymous

    @Nigel Cowley . . . Given that this article is primarily based around a speech made in response to the Cloyne report and the Vatican’s response, I’ll leave others to decide where the ignorance lies . . . but given that you’ve raised the Murphy Report please direct me to the section which conclusively implicates the Pope “and his cronies” and I will respond to your accusation.

    If by stop digging you mean stop trying to ensure truth then I’m afraid the whole will get deeper yet. Yes members of the Church have done terrrible things, yes, members of the Church’s hierarchy have dealt with it appallingly or being involved themselves. This is beyond doubt. However, it seems clear to me that Kelly made a political speech for his own personal ends, with scant regard for truth, but with a great concern for memorable quotes that has been detrimental to helping the prevention and healing process. If you want a scape goat look to Bishop McGee. Is his apology as forthright as I would like it to be . . . no it’s not. But why is Kelly not going after him and saving his venom for the Vatican? Because it’s not Ireland and solves the problem of having to ask some awkward home truths and look at how the Irish government was complicit in the filth of abuse and the Garda too. Does Kelly give the impression that in all areas of Irish society there is mandatory reporting of abuse accusations? Yes, he does, but this isn’t the case and so it is hard to see how the Vatican could therefore of obstructed the process of justice in Ireland.

  • Dave O’ Brien

    The only thing  that Enda Kenny should be Embarrassed about, regarding his Speech in the Irish Parliament, is the fact that he, and all the other previous Irish PM’s, stayed silent on the issue for so long. This Speech should have been made 50 Years ago.    

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    I suppose indemnifying 800 catholic abusers wouldn’t be considered obstructing an enquiry? A few words from a  man who is as guilty as the catholic church of genocide of the Irish people was inappropriate and uncomfortable for a leader as the like of the pope who’s institution has nothing else better to do but rape and destroy humanity while all the time keeping face for it’s followers. How embarrassing. 

  • Anonymous

    @Mrjohnmusicman – Do you know what “indemnifying” means? I think the last thing anybody is likely to complain about would be if the Vatican was being accused of putting the Irish Church in funds to pay the victims of abuse?

    Do you know what “genocide” means? I don’t think anyone is accusing anyone of killing a race here?

    If your final comment “How embarrassing.” refers to the incoherence of your argument and your use of language; then, on that, I think we can agree.

  • Anonymous

    With all the Horror stories and a Church that obviously doesn’t care about the lives it has destroyed i think Enda went light on the Church … Truth hurts doesn’t it ? “Rape and Torture?” Those words should be wringing in your ears for an eternity !!  

  • Boylecharlie

    Does the Vatican think that by its very technical and public reply to the Irish Govt that it may…just may fool some people into believing that it “totally co-operated” with all issues of clerical abuse.
    Enda Kenny did well but he was only reflecting the voice of an angry AND full of voice Irish public.He needs to now further fire shots into the sinking ship or Rome. This little spat has told us all one thing…its game over in terms of the Vatican having any part in a Republic of Ireland. The only thing left now is to clean up the awful mess of human misery and to hold to account all those responsible……both within the state and those who the Vatican know clearly frustrated and avoided co-operation….the dogs on the street know that this occured and if they are so confident….open up the gates and let the independent investigators in!! The Vatican got away with fooling countries such as Ireland by allowing its men of cloth to fail again and again for centuries….. but the time has come to part.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody is pretending that the truth of the filth that has occurred in the Church in anything other than painful. It causes me immense pain. Not as much as those who have been abused and are still suffering from it, but I can in some small way share in there suffering through my own incident which occurred when I was a child, but had nothing to do with Catholic church, but rather a CofE school.

    The truth is immensely painful.

    What is also painful, but not to the same degree, and also hugely irritating is those who hate the Church as an institution full stop and who wish to bring it down by utilising the abuse of others. I can understand that reaction in a victim of abuse, but there are others who just use it as a platform for their hatred of the Church and do not even bother to get their facts straight. They will believe whatever falsehood suits their argument.

    So, yes the truth does hurt, but have some respect for the truth in arguments.

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Now I’m really confused.

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Would holocaust suit better then?

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Would holocaust suit better then?

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Would holocaust suit better then?

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Enda Kenny is a bag of wind, it’s the best he could offer while knowingly covering child abuse himself.

  • Anonymous

    Now, it’s me who is really confused.

    How does this fit into the discussion:

    hol·o·caust (hl-kôst, hl-)
    n. 1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.2. a. Holocaust The genocide of European Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II: “Israel emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastrophe” (Emanuel Litvinoff).
    b. A massive slaughter: “an important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaust” (Rod Nordland).3. A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.

  • James

    What do you mean? Should Enda Kenny have been making unfounded allegations about the Holy See 50 years ago?

    Or should some other Taoiseach have made unfounded allegations about the Holy See 50 years ago?

    Why are you so keen for Irish politicians to make unfounded allegations about the Holy See?

  • Dave O’ Brien

    I think you know only too well what I mean James.

  • Guest

    Newsflash: There are
    over a billion Catholics in the world. The population of Ireland is
    4.4mil.
    The Church will go on
    with or without the Republic of Ireland.

    The Church will go on
    with or without the Republic of Ireland.

  • Anonymous

    Well, if you are an impartial observer of this issue ( which I seriously doubt) , you would know that the present pope during his time as Cardinal head of the CDF(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), was involved in positive action to streamline and update the processes to expedite justice to the victims and defrock guilty priests.  In 2001, he successfully requested that the overall handling of abuse cases be transferred to his congregation in order to sort out the totally inadequate response-mechanisms that the Vatican had in place.  He quickly came to the conclusion that these cases must be given top priority and during the obsequies for the solemn requiem mass for his late, Blessed predecessor, Pope John Paul 11,  referred to these cases as the “filth” which had so soiled the Catholic priesthood.  Since his time as pope, he has initiated tougher sanctions against abuser priests in canon law and also has met on various occasions with victims of such abominable acts, during his apostolic voyages across the world.

  • Anonymous

    What an idiotic comment, Mrjohnnymuzakman,  Where did you get the “800 catholic abusers” from? Did you just pull them out of a magic top-hat?  Your very fast and loose use of the loaded word “genoicide” to describe the supposed effect of the Catholic Church on the Irish people is too ludicrous for words  The Irish people over the centuries braved the persecutions of the British protestant state to subj

  • Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh

    I congratulate Ireland’s Prime Minister Kenny and Deputy PM Gilmore and Minister for Justice Shatter for letting Pope Benedict XVI and the other members of the hierarchy in the Vatican know that the protection of children from sexual abuse by priests is of primary importance.  

    Could it be that celibacy, and not having a wife to love, and children of their own to raise and protect, have dulled the senses of the celibate men in the Vatican to protecting their fellow clergy, rather than protecting the innocence of children?  Priest sexual abuse is not only an Irish problem, it is a worldwide problem originating from policies from the Vatican in Rome, probably for centuries in secrecy.

    As a Catholic physician who has met many who have been abused by clergy, I believe that mandatory celibacy has done more harm than good in the Roman Catholic Church.  Mandatory celibacy does not benefit the priest, it just adds to the power and control of the Vatican over the lives of those who are willing to be controlled by this institution.  Mandatory celibacy needs to end, if there is any hope for a healthier Roman Catholic Church.

    Sincerely,   Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, USA, mchughrosemary@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    The ship “Vatcan” is a big ship and takes time to adjust course.   At the speed they are changing there will be no perceivable change of course in a millennium.

  • Anonymous

    Rosemary

    I agree with you 100%. Mandatory celibacy damages men and women and we are seeing the fruits of this now.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody forced them to become Priests. Nobody changed the rules after they became Priests on celibacy. What has occurred is that some men have been poorly formed in the Seminary in preparation for a life of celibacy. However, so far as I am aware there has been no significant study which has found any causal link between celibacy and child abuse.

    The recent report in the US by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice stated as follows:

    “The bulk of cases occurred decades ago,” said Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay’s principal investigator for the report. “The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time. “She also stated that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.” Terry also said that neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of the abuse, and that priest candidates who would later abuse could not be distinguished by psychological test data, developmental and sexual history data, intelligence data, or experience in priesthood. The development of human formation components of seminary preparation for priesthood is associated with the continued low levels of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States, she said.

  • Stephen Darrell Shepherd

    these frocked abusers of children are vile cowards , and the the Pope , who is on bended knee to the Crown ,Is the head of this culture of paedophilia network,  all corrupt, all deviant, what they care about is CONTROL, MONEY and POWER, not your spiritual welfare! they have abused their positions in society for so long and its time this system came down!! Anyone supporting the tyranny of the church

  • Thegrem101

    Oh dear when will you people catch on Cover up and Spin DOES NOT WORK

  • Dorothea Brown

    Enda Kenny is helping to break the silence under which these crimes are permitted to breed…

  • John Deegan

    The Roman Catholic Church should be ashamed and its Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean (The Criminal) Brady from County Cavan should have long ago been prosecuted for covering up for Fr Brendan Smyth.His actions allowed for THE RAPE of children.We want all those in the RCC held accountable for covering up the rape of our innocent little children…I despise this religion and want it out of all schools and indeed out of my country…John Deegan…ACCAI.

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    Well, I guess your right, it doesn’t fit in to this discussion. But quite frankly the true nature of deaths by the roman catholic church will never be known.  More so because we have people like you to defend them.

  • Mrjohnmusicman

    This is not an Irish problem, it is a problem of the catholic church. While you and others continue to blame the country of origin, the abuse done by catholic clergy will never go away or solve the age old problem of deranged, depraved and genocidal nature of their religion. No doubt you have been carefully educated by the male dominated religion to keep them at bay and away from Justice while you continue defend with the bull shit you have just written..

  • Stephen Darrell Shepherd

    A great destruction of Irelands children…..do you think these people ever get over the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of these frocked cowards? that is tantamount to destruction of a considerable part of a race, be it a death of sorts, although not physical death, they destroy the SPIRIT of humanity!

  • Stephen Darrell Shepherd

    “spread it abroad”…like a Virus?

  • Recusant

    It appears you had a heart attack half way through this lurid rant. I think you may have read the Da Vinci Code once too often.

  • Anonymous

    Edna Kenny is basically anti Catholic and after the populist vote.The Roman Catholic Church is full of sinners,me included of course,and no doubt Edna is too,but maybe not,as so many today seek excuses in sin nowadays,sort of ,well yes its wrong but in my circumstances what could I do !!! Modernism,Materialism,Consumerism,are enemies of the church but in the last 50 or so years has become endemic.There is no excuse for sin,but as humans we are prone,there is the Sacrament of Penance to bring us as one to our Saviour,but now people such as edna want the state to know of the confession of idividual sinners , there is one perfect being and that is God himself.God.Son & Holy Ghost,the Three in One

  • GabrielAustin

    A politician should be embarrassed by lack of facts?

    A river should roll uphill?

  • Anonymous

    Yep, that’s right Dorothea; nobody knew about these crimes until Enda Kelly spoke out, no-one. What he is absolutely not doing is jumping on the bandwagon of popular, but inaccurate, sentiment. He is definitely making a brave stand at tremendous personal cost and a huge risk of negative political consequences and is definitely not seeking to deflect attention from his decision to close a hospital which he’d promised to keep open. I repeat it has absolutely nothing to do with his own selfish political motivations and shamelessly using the abuse of others to further himself. Not a chance?

  • Thomas

    Its not Enda Kennys attack that matters, what matters is the way the catholic church is downplaying the abuse and acting as if its not their fault. Its disgusting how people are defending the vatican, are they doing it because they fear that God will punish them if they turn against the church? Its clear that the catholic church doesnt even remember who God is or any of his teachings. They are closer to being devil worshippers than followers of Jesus Christ….

  • Diffal

    Why should Enda let
    little things like facts get in the way of his grandstanding?

    Most of what
    politicians say has very little basis in fact, the same
    was true in his slanderous polemic in the Dáil, and now that he has talked
    himself into a corner he is hardly going to admit that is he?

     

  • Diffal

    I agree Thegrem101, pity Enda doesn’t share that conviction as well.

  • Anonymous

    Thomas – nobody is down-playing the abuse. It’s the Church’s fault, but it’s a question of putting the blame where it correctly lies. If you don’t do that you don’t fix the problem. Now the Vatican has many things it could do better, it is adminstratively quite cumbersome, but then it runs the largest organisation in the world and the most diverse so I’m prepared to cut some slack. However, in the this particular instance all the Dioceses in Ireland, bar one, Cloyne, managed to get their houses in order and now the Irish Government seeks to run the argument that it was Vatican interference that caused the issue in Cloyne. And yet the same Vatican letter had no effect in all the other Dioceses? I would then suggest that the problem lies in Cloyne. The Bishop has acknowledge as much by resigning and accepting that he failed in his duty.

  • Parasum

    Then the USS[R] “Vatican” would not be much use with an iceberg.

    When the Vatican wants to, it moves liked greased lightning. It’s taken forever over these crimes, so it obviously doesn’t care a bent pin for the harm done to people. “By their fruits…”, etc.