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Irish prime minister accuses Vatican of ‘narcissism’

By on Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Prime Minister Enda Kenny (CNS photo/Reuters)

Prime Minister Enda Kenny (CNS photo/Reuters)

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of adopting a “calculated, withering position” on abuse in the wake of a judicial report that accused the Holy See of being “entirely unhelpful” to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

During a parliamentary debate, Mr Kenny said an independent judicial investigation into the handling of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago”.

“And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day,” he said.

The Cloyne Report, published last week, found that Cloyne Bishop John Magee, a former secretary to three popes, paid “little or no attention” to child safeguarding as recently as 2008. It said he falsely told the government that his diocese was reporting all allegations of clerical child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts – one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files – of a meeting with a priest-suspect.

The report accuses the Vatican of being “entirely unhelpful” to bishops who wanted to fully implement the 1996 guidelines, “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”.

Mr Kenny said that “this calculated, withering position” was “the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.”

He said that “the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the state’s authorities.”

Referring to a tendency identified in the Cloyne Report to put the rights of accused clerics ahead of victims, Mr Kenny said “clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors” of abuse.

He said this “Roman clericalism must be devastating for good priests, some of them old, others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work so hard, to be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes, communities and the human heart.”

Mr Kenny said the Church needs to be “truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied”.

Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, rejected criticism of the Holy See in an interview with Vatican Radio. Emphasising that he was speaking in a private capacity, he said that much of the criticism failed to take into account the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI and other Church officials to prevent future cases of child sexual abuse and to address past cases with openness and determination.

He also said it was unfair to criticise the Church for failing to insist on mandatory reporting in a country that had not deemed it necessary to make it part of civil law.

  • Ratbag

    Spot. On.

  • Ratbag

    Right on!

  • Ratbag

    Not you again, Patrick O’Malley!

  • Honeybadger

    Oh, go and throw your teddies out of the pram somewhere else… like the planet Neptune!

  • Ratbag

    How about “Schmuck” Kenny?

  • Ratbag

    If that is your attitude towards priests,would you say the same about NHS Hospitals if you fall sick, with regards to the current headlines re a certain Stockport hospital?


    Then why tar all priests with the same brush, then? GET A GRIP!!!!

  • Ratbag

    A friend of mine, whose husband is a deacon, says that to deny children access to the sacraments or the faith is child abuse.

    I agree.

  • Honeybadger


    The ‘Ireland was to blame’ bit did not have bells, neon lights and as much fanfare as the attack on the Vatican.

    That’s what widdles me off!

    If you are done with the Catholic Church, that’s between you and God. Nobody else.

  • Mortified Irish catholic

    Evidently-that’s why I said ‘catholic minister’. Enda Kenny referred to himself as a practicing catholic during his speech and clearly feels he is on par with the vicar of Christ. I wonder how confident he would be face to face with him debating the catechism. It was he who declared himself catholic in the dail and he should face excommunication if he continues on this path. Excommunication removes an individual from the church community and no longer affords them the right to stand up in public and call themselves Roman Catholic on one hand and then attack priests (who are acting in persona Christi during their administration of the sacraments) on the other. If individuals don’t want to be Catholic let them join an ecclesiastical community of which there are many. I’m sure there they will find comfort in the bosom of those who are anti-catholic and anti-pope or those who do not recognise the episcopate, priesthood or diaconat but adopt an entirely lay model of worship.

  • Parasum

    “[W]ho does Kenny think he is” ? Someone who hasn’t enabled or protected paedophiles.

    Only Rome is able to mend matters – no-one else can elect or ordain or discipline bishops, or laicise priests. Rome has all the power in the Church – the laity don’t. Politicians don’t. Fr. Twomey can speak or write – but he can’t do anything else. “[K]icking the issue back to Rome” is the only course possible. If Rome does nothing, then this mess will drag on :(  

  • Tom0153

    Here is an opportunity to learn about child protection issues and concerns:

  • Harper

    To all Vatican baiters on here: please google Peter Hollingworth, Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane from 1990-2001. He was Governor-General of Australia from 2001-2003, when he was forced to resign when it was revealed that he had failed to investigate cases of child abuse in his diocese when these were brought to his attention. The scandal rocked Australia, which is one reason why, despite the country’s sectarian past, few non-Catholic Australians attempt to identify this problem primarily with the Catholic Church – stones and glasshouses etc. Adjusted to scale, 70 million Anglicans to over a billion Catholics worldwide, this is no less a problem for Anglicans and other ecclesiastical and secular bodies, where access to children has been unregulated, as Hollingworth’s fall illustrates. Most abuse takes place within families, at the hands of married men, and occasionally women. The Irish scandals are indeed shocking, but Vatican baiters should pursue their agenda elsewhere, instead of using this horrific problem to achieve their quite different ends.

  • Harper

    Rome should indeed act. My point was that Kenny is trying to locate the cause outside the state, in Rome, and to dine out on an anti-hierarchical strain in Irish republican identity. The references to Ireland being a republic (it would make no difference to the issue if it were a constitutional monarchy), as though this were incompatible with the “monarchical” Holy See which was preying on Irish independence was part of this knee-jerk. These are belated manifestations of the anti-clerical French revolutionary origins of Irish republicanism. Calling on the Holy See to rediscover its foot-washing “egalitarian” origins and apostolic simplicity has nothing to do with the resolution of this issue, which, as pointed out above, is banefully endemic in many organisations. Irish politicians have no idea of the limitations of the Holy See, imagining it to be some sort of Washington DC with a vast staff and the Pope as some sort of Chief Executive. The staff in fact is tiny, yet they wonder why they can’t respond in detail within 24 hours, as though Ireland was the only concern of the Holy See. I’d hate to be an Irish diplomat in Rome, having to defend my prime minister’s thoroughly unstatesmanlike outburst, for this is no way to conduct relations.

  • Harper

    Betrayal has been built into the heart of the Church since the beginning, when Judas, having just shared the Last Supper, went off to betray Christ. Peter, in a milder way, also betrayed Him. Imagine, however, if the early apostles used these betrayals and failings to justify leaving their group altogether. The Church has always been in the hands of human beings, with all their failings, but these, and even the horrific crimes committed by the clergy concerned, does not detract from the Church’s historic doctrinal authority. Catholicism is not a fairweather faith. Leave the Church if you must, for you have free will, but please don’t use child abuse to justify such a departure. If you think that it is right to avenge yourself on the Church as a whole, regardless of individual culpability, by removing yourself and your children and depriving them of the Sacraments, you must surely not in the first place have had a full understanding of the nature of Catholicism. It will be yours and their loss. As far as I am concerned, I would never in conscience be willing to do what my ancestors refused to do in far harsher – indeed, deadly - times.

  • MTK53

    I’m glad someone ( yes, I mean you ‘Ratbag’) finds this subject funny and is in stitches. Enda Kenny is the first politician to do his job properly. If he doesn’t tell the Vatican that their actions were wrong ( to say the least) he would be neglecting his duty which is to defend the children  of  this country against rapists and abusers. The g priests who were so cruel to them were abusing the power that they had invested in them by the craw thumping politicians of previous generations. 
    Believe me, this is no laughing matter. The survivors need our support. This is not a time for smart alec remarks.  

  • MTK53

    Did you mean ‘hear, hear, hear’ ??

  • MTK53

    Thank you Dr McHugh for putting it so well. Neither the current pope nor his predecessor stood up in St Peter’s and said ‘the abuse of children is a grave sin’, which what I waited for all along and in my opinion they were involved in covering up the rape of innocent children. The Roman Church had too much power all along and this power corrupted them to the extent that some of the priests thought they were above the law, even the law of God. I can’t understand how they could abuse children and still proport to believe in God. 
    I am not anti catholic but I am very disillusioned and hurt by the scandalous behaviour of some of our priests and especially by the reaction of the vatican. 

  • David Ayalon

    You mention Knock. Well, a month ago I was staying a Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo.Our group made a visit to Knock. My friend simply asked at what time would the Virgin Mary appear, in the simple belief that this was a daily occurrence. The receptionist went ‘ballistic’ and called security to have all of us removed. Please do not mention Knock. It was a Circus.

  • Harper

    I can think of plenty of good clergy to whom I would entrust my children. However, among lay people, in families where statistically abuse is far more likely to occur, I am not so sure.

  • BocktheRobber

    Kenny’s statement was not about religion.  It was about interference by a foreign government in the sovereign affairs of the Irish republic.  If the Vatican does not wish to be regarded as a State like any other, let it stop demanding to be treated as one.

  • Honeybadger

    Whatever. Hear, hear, hear, hear, hear etc.

    Happy now?

  • Honeybadger

    Oh, get a grip! Your attempts at going for a cheap shot wouldn’t even sell at a flea market.

    Go to an optician, get yourself an eye test and read my post PROP-ER-LY!

    That is PRO-PER-LY!

    I find that second rate Bismarck impersonator Enda Kenny funny, facetious and supercilious. He should not be let loose with a ball point pen, never mind the office of Taoiseach. He is not doing his job. He’s grandstanding on the backs of the abused, which I find disgusting. If he thinks that imprisoning priests for refusing to break the seal of confession is going to work or bring those evildoers to justice, he’s got another thing coming.

    The Irish Government, the Gardai and other secular institutions in Ireland who let this happen were as much to blame – even more so, actually, as are Irish society curtain twitchers in the vicinity.

    I do not find the plight of the abused funny. Just the Irish Government and the impotence of the Irish Heirarchy.

  • Honeybadger

    Er, for your information, Our Lady appeared at Knock on 21st August 1879… along with St Joseph, St John The Evangelist, Christ as the Lamb of God on the Altar with angels. It is one of the major Marian Shrines in the World -  ranking alongside Lourdes, Fatima and Guadaloupe etc.

    Now, either you arrived in County Mayo via a TARDIS or that you were taken in by the ‘message’ of a Dublinman who believes he received visions of Our Lady who told him she was appearing at Knock at such-and-such a time and who subsequently caused grief and disruption at the shrine, along with his other ‘followers’ who gathered round to see a vision last year…. at exactly the same time as Holy Mass was being celebrated. What these people saw last year was categorically NOT Our Lady.

    As far as I’m concerned, the biggest clown at the circus is you.

  • Honeybadger

    If Enda Kenny thinks he is the Vicar of Christ, he ought to see a shrink…

  • David Ayalon

    I came from JFK to Shannon and then to Knock. I never expected to see our lady or any other vision, because I believe as Barnum did that there is ‘one born every minute’. The visitors at Knock looked as if they were “three sheets in the wind’ from imbibing poteen, hence the visions of our lady. Because a lady in our group asked at what time would our lady appear, they went ‘over the top’. She thought it incomprehensible that someone would pay money to visit a shrine and see nothing whatsoever, and I thought the same. Your assertions about all these apparitions can be explained in psychodynamic and neurochemical terms. It seemed to us to be a money making scam to exploit foolish people

  • John

    Disconnected? Dysfunctional? Elitist? Narcissistic?  Well doh! -  we knew all that.  Bishop Reinhold Stecher wrote pretty much the same thing on his retirement 13 years ago.  Fortunately the Church does not consist SUBSTANTIALLY of those idiots.  It consists of the millions of ordinary men and women and children and yes, humble and holy priests, all of whom are trying their best to live their lives according to the example of Jesus, its  founder.  The Church will flourish IN SPITE of the idiots over there.

  • Justin

    He should clean up his own house first. What about the civic authorities? What about the Irish bishops? Or the priests who actually committed the abuse? The attack on the Holy See is a scapegoat for the Irish government’s and Irish church’s failure to protect its own children. The Vatican has no control over the ridiculous Irish bishops on things like doctrine and liturgy so why do we expect them to have control over clerical discipline?

    As a point of interest, the Catholic faith in Ireland has not died because of the abuse scandal – if it did then the faith must have been very weak indeed because actually we expect men to do horrid things – the total depravity of sin and all that. No, the faith in Ireland was dead long before that – that’s why people are shocked.

    Goodbye Catholic Ireland.

  • Justin

    Well some families commit child abuse. In fact some parts of the world commits child abuse. So if the whole world has to be torn down and all families torn apart then so be it as well presumably.

  • Justin

    Erm. Is he not the head of the government? And is not the Irish government in some way responsible for crimes committed in Ireland?

    Why blame the Vatican? It happened…in Ireland…on Irish citizens…by Irish citizens….seems like Kenny should pick the log out of his own eye first and address the failures of successive Irish governments to ensure adequate law and order in his country.

  • Justin

    Rome should just excommunicate Kenny, place Ireland under interdict and be done with it.

  • Tiggy

    Ah you are an American. That explains it all.

  • David Ayalon

    Roman Catholicism has been around for 1650 years and according to my Hebcal Jewish Calendar today’s date is 21st of Tamuz, 5771. So Judaism has been around for nearly four times longer. Buddhism has been around since 554 BC. Trust Catholic propaganda to issue misleading data.

  • Mark Castilano

    Anyhow, nonsense is still nonsense, not matter how long it has been practiced, or by whom.

  • David Ayalon

    Your erudite linguistics and prose is to your credit and is a lesson to us all. We read it in grand rapture.

  • Tiggy

    Judaism and Buddhism are belief systems not Churches. I always find it helpful to compare like with like.

  • Harper

    Ah, another Vatican baiter. Not true. Both this pope and his predecessor said it was a grave sin, citing the Gospel passage about being cast into the sea for such a terrible sin. But when you are a Vatican baiter, facts don’t really matter, just prejudice.

  • JamesH

    Oh, here we go… another ‘The Church was created by Constantine’ type. Ignorance informing invective, a great combo.

  • Michel Roi

    In fairness to Ireland, a country I have visited many times and where I have a number of friends, I believe the loss of faith has been gradual and taken place for a variey of reasons.  Nonetheless, the scandals have played a part.  Though our doctrine allows for such unedifying realities as unfaithful priests and incompetent, even corrupt bishops (bad popes as well, though I’d argue we haven’t had one for several centuries), these can try the faith of even the most convinced.   The revelation of these outrages has been continuous and taken place over many years.  It has worked like a battering ram on many people’s commitment to the Church.  I’m afraid not everyone breathes the same rarified air of robust unshakeable faith.  That said,probably upon examination, we would find that many who have “lost the faith” actually still believe but are angry at the institutional arm of the Church. 

  • Honeybadger

    Did you not bother to do your research about the history of Knock Shrine? I’ve been a pilgrim to Knock several times and know a damn sight more about it than you. The apparitions already happened in 1879 and there have been none since.

    So, whoever told you that Our Lady would be making an appearance there saw you coming a mile off and no mistake!

    By the way, did you happen to visit Clontarf, expecting to meet Brian Boru and some defeated Danes at 1014 but thought you missed the action because you and your friends arrived at 1130?

  • Honeybadger

    It certainly does!

  • Honeybadger

    You have misread my post.

    Why didn’t you mention my moniker the first time instead of between perentheses? What a

    I do not find the plight of clerical abuse funny at all – whether it is the Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Protestant Churches or secular institutions.

    I find Enda Kenny, his scapegoating Irish Government and an impotent Irish Catholic Hierararchy funny and hysterical - yeah, those who thought that the Apostolic Visitation was a pat on the back for a job well done – when, in fact, it was to see what a sorry mess the Irish Church is in because they thought they were above the Pope.

    I’m currently counselling and supporting a victim of sex abuse… the evil, heinous deed which was perpetrated by their own sibling - not a priest, not a Christian Brother, nor a nun, nor a vicar. The victim is not the only one to have been abused this way.

    You don’t have to murder someone to break God’s commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill.

    So, MTK53, take the pedestals from under your high horse.

  • Honeybadger

    There are lots of ‘Vatican baiters’ about, especially on these message boards. They remind me of the mobs in those black-and-white movies who go about medieval streets with rakes, clubs, pickaxes and flaming torches roaring and shouting for revenge, banging on random doors and lynching innocent people whilst the real felons are still at large.

    They don’t bother facing facts. They just want to diss the Roman Catholic Church because it is fashionable to do so.

  • Honeybadger

    Thank you, Justin! Thank you, thank you, thank you! At last, someone who actually KNOWS his facts.

    I’ve been trying to get this point across… you’ve done a better job.

    More power to you!

  • Anonymous

    How do the comments made by either of you have anything to do with this discussion? Yes Catholicism has been around for a long time and yes that does not make it true but this kind of child abuse is not endemic to Catholicism. From Castilano I beg leave to ask an alternative that you wish to put forward and from Ayalon may I ask what the age of Judaism or Buddhism has to do with anything? Both of these, as well as Catholicism have changed from their original forms, members of all of them have commited crimes and none of these crimes have been in accordance with the doctrines of any of these three. One last thing: you are right that nonsense is always nonsense; why else do people still think secularism is viable as a permanant form of government?

  • Danny Haszard

    Not  to diminish the high crimes of the RCC but please examine the Jehovah’s Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property. 
    Jehovah’s Witnesses pedophiles.

    Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah’s Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state). It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large. These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.
    Although the Watchtower Bible Tract Society claims that known pedophiles are accompanied by a non-pedophile in such work, there is no law stating that such a practice must be followed.
    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.
    –Danny Haszard abuse victim 

  • Aisake

    I agree with Harper, who does Kenny think he is to lecture Rome or Vatican, the Irish Prime Minister should try to solve the financial crisis in his country and welfare of the his people. His government has created a most unemployment percentages for all decades. the church will deal with her issue in a appropriate manner which will not hurt others feeling and cause more problem in the church. the issues of  the church should leave to the church to handle and it will handle it in a peace and justice conduct 

  • tessa

    A full unbiased report on the actions/inactions that the Pope has taken on abuse within his church has been written by Geoffrey Robertson QC. (Human rights lawyer)   ‘The Case of the Pope’.

    The evidence in this book indicates that the Pope still insists that he is above the democratic law of a country and refuses to report paedophile priests to authorities.
     There is a tendency now, after they have ‘confessed’ and been ‘forgiven’  for the Pope to  move them on to other countries, especially Africa, where they are free to abuse again.

  • Harper

    Unbiased like hell! Robertson is not unbiased on this or on any other high-profile case he has involved himself in. He revealed his woeful ignorance of diplomatic history and law when he argued, in concert with rabid atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, that the Holy See, which practically invented modern diplomatic practice (see Sir Ernest Satow’s seminal work), was not a sovereign state. I would choose my “unbiased” experts far more carefully.

  • David Ayalon Weehawken NJ

    Oh, yes, You are in for a shock. The Catholic Church will soon be reclassified as superstition with astrology, fortune telling, palmistry, aromatherapy, homeopathy and all other acts of charlatanism where there is no scientific or logical basis. There is pending legislation within the EC to stop charlatans like the catholic church exploiting the vulnerable and stealing their money. Masses for the dead and money for indulgences, selling Lourdes water, statues, medals and crucifixes will be outlawed (check this with your MEP). The Vatican God squad have met their Waterloo.

  • David Ayalon Weehawken NJ

    The Catholic Church was the legacy of Constantine and Sol Invictus who sacrificed virgins and children to the Sun God. That is why the Catholic is preoccupied with blood and suffering. The rituals in the mass are virtually identical with those of Sol Invictus, with the altar (like an operating table) to cut up children, young girls and boys and especially teenage virgins. They offered the children to The Sun of God ( not the Son of God. The catholic church has continued the same savagery and brutality ever since. Anyhow this is academic because the game is up for Constantine’s “Sons of Sodomy” and “Beasts of Buggery”.