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Ireland’s foreign minister: Vatican must explain itself

By on Friday, 15 July 2011

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza is received as papal nuncio to Ireland in 2008 (CNS photo/John McElroy courtesy of Irish Catholic)

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza is received as papal nuncio to Ireland in 2008 (CNS photo/John McElroy courtesy of Irish Catholic)

Ireland’s foreign minister summoned the country’s papal nuncio yesterday and demanded that the Vatican give a formal response to the Cloyne Report into the mishandling of clerical abuse.

The meeting came just a day after a judicial commission accused the Vatican of being “entirely unhelpful” to Irish bishops seeking to implement robust abuse policies.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore told Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza that the Vatican had “undermined” best practice in child safeguarding within the Church.

The Cloyne Report said the Vatican, through its opposition to the Irish bishops’ 1996 guidelines for handling child sexual abuse, gave comfort to dissenters within the Church who did not want to implement the procedures. In a letter to the bishops, the Congregation for Clergy described the rules as “merely a study document” and refused to give the document formal recognition.

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican intervention was “absolutely unacceptable” and “inappropriate.” He said he had told Archbishop Leanza that an explanation and response were required as to why the Vatican had told priests and bishops they could undermine the rules.

Speaking after the meeting, Archbishop Leanza, who was named nuncio to Ireland in February 2008, said he was “distressed … by the failures in assuring the protection of children within the Church despite all the good work that has been done” and promised to deliver a copy of the report to the Vatican.

Responding to journalists’ queries, Mr Gilmore said: “I want to know why this state, with which we have diplomatic relations, issued a communication, the effect of which was that very serious matter of the abuse of children in this country was not reported to the authorities.”

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican had conveyed a message that somehow it was “all right to evade responsibility” for reporting these matters to the Irish authorities.

“What happened here should not have happened. What happened here was totally inappropriate, unjustified and unacceptable by the Vatican in the reporting arrangements, even within the context of the arrangements of the Church itself,” Mr Gilmore said after the meeting.

He said he had not set a deadline for a response but that he would judge what represented an appropriate period of time to respond to the formal request from the government.

Earlier the same day, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said he would not have a specific comment on the Cloyne Report. He said the Vatican views this as one part of the sex abuse issue in Ireland, and he referred reporters to earlier statements by the Pope and the Vatican on the gravity of the problem and the measures taken to resolve it.

The report, based on a judicial investigation into the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against clerics in the Diocese of Cloyne, concluded that the Church’s own guidelines were “not fully or consistently implemented” in the diocese as recently as 2008.

It said that “the primary responsibility for the failure to implement the agreed procedures lies with” Bishop John Magee, a former secretary to three popes who has admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a young man.

  • ms catholic state

    There is no flaw in my logic…..but atheism is without a shred of logic.  In fact… is the most illogical worldview there is.

  • Dowlers

    Thats right MartyJo. Continue to blame the victims. then Rome can continue to wash its hands of the issue. When this fails you can move on to blaming “a few bad apples”. When it is again proved Rome systematical covered up known abuse you can then blame media persecution. Because being an ultra conservative right wing catholic mean never having to say your sorry.

  • Dowlers

    Nice one. You demand supporting evidence from me which I provide. You then counter with a bold statement “It is a fact..” while providing zero evidence yourself. I’m sure you learned this double standard by studying Romes responses to, well everything. I’m not denying that abuse took place between the 60s and the 70s. I’m just saying there is aple evidence that it was rampant before that period as well.

    You say:
    As for conditions in the places you mention, I think we have to consider
    the period in question. Very few institutions were high on conditions
    in those days.

    The only institutions where rape and physical abuse were the norm at the time were these institutions run by religious orders and prisons. You are using a variation of the tired argument “The church may be bad but look how bad other churches/institutions are” as if that can justify rape and abuse.  Yet despite multiple reports that interviewed the victims themselves you claim these are “are allegations made without a single shred of evidence to back them”. How you so callously dismiss 13 thousand people all telling the same horrific stories of rape and abuse is beyond me.

  • Dowlers

    You’d prefer a head  in the sand, sweep it under the carpet type response like previous generations?

    This scandal would have been over by now if the Church and Rome could follow there own guidelines instead of covertly and hypocritically continuing to try to cover it up.

  • Anonymous

    If it gives you some comfort to rant against the Catholic Church then knock yourself out, my friend. You’re not the first, nor will you be the last, to leap upon a scandal involving some bad clerics and use it to attack the Church in general. I must of course remind you that the greater majority of priests and religious in the Catholic Church have been, and continue to be, of impeccable moral character.

    By the way, while I believe that abuse of children did take place by bad clergy and religious, I have grave reservations over the number you quote. Any objective reading of the various reports in this matter shows clearly that many of the allegations made cannot be substantiated due to the decades that have passed since events allegedly took place. Besides that, I would ask why no more than a small handful of priests have been tried and found guilty if your figure of thirteen thousand victims is accurate. What was it St. Paul said? Ah! yes: “The anger of man worketh not the justice of God.” I think you would do well to reflect on those words.

    You would also do well to read the book ‘Kathy’s Real Story,’ by Hermann Kelly. It completely debunks the accusations of Kathy O’Beirne, whose two books claiming rape and beatings at the hands of priests and nuns in 1970s Ireland sold in their hundreds of thousands. These books also resulted in the completely fictitious movie ‘The Magdalene Sisters.’ If you read Kathy’s Real Story I guarantee that you will thereafter be very careful about what you believe.

    Now I don’t know if you are a Catholic, I’m guessing not given your hostility, but there is an approved Marian prophecy from the 16th century that basically warns us of these present events. It was a prophecy concerning dire events both in the Church and in the world beginning around the late 19th through the 20th century. Interestingly, it speaks of the bad actions of some clergy that will result in the godless rising up in fury against the Church causing many innocent priests to suffer. I suggest you read up on the message of Our Lady of Quito and perhaps ask yourself if it’s truly those abused children that causes you to rage against the Church, or is there some other reason for your fury. 

  • LocutusOP

    I agree at least with the moral of your story…
    ‘Do not believe anything you are told in the press, TV or from “government reports”‘.

  • James H

    Of course, no-one ever accused a priest in the hope that the church would fork out to shut them up, did they?

  • James H

    And Atheist political regimes have killed more people, told more lies and trashed more culture than all the world’s religions combined, for all of history.

    And: they did it all in one century!

  • James H

    With the rider – ‘especially where the subject is the Catholic Church’

  • Anonymous

    Since you cannot possibly know which groups of people tell the most lies, your assertion can only be an invention (i.e. made-up).

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘atheist political regimes’. What policies derive from a non-belief in deities? If you are trying to suggest that, because given tyrants are atheists, atheism must be responsible for the deaths they cause, then you are mistaken because atheism says nothing about killing people. (The same cannot be said about religions whose holy books prescribe death.)

    In cultures with good and bad components, the bad parts deserve to be trashed. Genital mutilation is as example of a cultural practice that ought to be stopped.

  • Aisake

    Please don’t criticise people on the their behavior because it has come to the attention of the church and the church will only deal it in the professional manner. Only pagan that critise the church cause they cannot appreciate every thing that the church has offered us. the sacramental has been gifted by the Lord it’s a precious gifts that he gifted us human kind 

  • Cjkeeffe

    Will teh Irish foreign minister go before the Irish people and tell them why successive irish governments have failed to take teh issue of child abuse seriously, or indeed marital rape until recent years.Yes abusers of children must be held to account, but as Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to Irish Church demonstrated, its bishops failed to follow establish church process, not the Vatican.
    Perhaps all this posturing by teh Irish government is a tactic to push attention away from its culpabilty as demonstrated by the Ryan report which balmed the church, the police and the health boards for failure to protect. I’ve not seen one irish mionsiter resign over this or police chief or health board executive. Or is this an attempt to distract from the Irish econmoy?
    The CTS have published an excellent booklet on the abuse scandel which sets things in histoprical context. ell worth the £2:50 to get it.

  • David

    You are of course right that atheism says nothing about killing people (likewise it say’s nothing about not killing people), as it has no creed to speak of at all. Clearly the fact that the most brutal dictators in recent history were secular can not be used to rubbish secularists in general. Likewise you will know that Catholicism categorically teaches that child abuse is a sin. So by the same token one can hardly accuse Catholics (as a whole) any more than one can accuse secularists as a whole.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the gist of what you are saying, but I am not sure about the detail.

    You say that most brutal dictators in recent history were secular, but all those that I can think of made some judgement for or against those of particular religions or of no religion and so their philosophy cannot strictly be described as secularism.

    Catholicism might teach that child abuse (other than intellectual abuse) is a sin, but I find that hard to square with parts of the Christian Bible, even the New Testament. Presumably, then, Catholics reject what Jesus teaches in Matthew 15:4? In the Old Testament (that source of the Commandments), there are numerous instructions to kill the abused! What is the justification for giving a higher priority to forgiving the sin than to making amends towards the abused?