Vatican 'offended' by requests from sex abuse inquiry
WikiLeaks reveals row over abuse investigation
Published 12/12/2010 | 05:00
THE Vatican was more concerned about its diplomatic sovereignty as a mini-state than with helping the Murphy Commission investigate appalling sexual abuse of children in the Dublin Archdiocese, newly leaked cables from the American embassy to the Holy See show.
The documents, released by WikiLeaks, show that requests from the Murphy Commission "offended many in the Vatican" who felt that the Irish Government had "failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations", a cable said.
Last year Judge Yvonne Murphy's independent commission investigating the Catholic Church's handling of abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese said the Vatican had failed to acknowledge a number of written requests for information.
But the Vatican told the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, Noel Fahey, that the requests should come through him and not directly from the commission.
In any event, the Government capitulated to Vatican demands that its officials were immune from testifying to the Murphy Commission, according to the cables.
The biggest crisis ever in Vatican-Irish relations caused the Pope's prime minister, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to write to the Irish Embassy ordering that any requests related to the investigation must come through diplomatic channels.
A crucial conversation between Mr Fahey and the US diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes reports him saying that the Irish clergy sex abuse scandal was the most difficult crisis he had ever managed.
Mr Fahey reportedly told the Americans that the Irish Government wanted "to be seen as co-operating with the investigation" because its own education department was implicated, but politicians were reluctant to press Vatican officials to answer queries.
According to Mr Fahey's deputy, Helena Keleher, the Government acceded to Vatican pressure and granted them immunity from testifying.
Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Minister Micheal Martin failed to comment on the accuracy of the leaks as did the Irish Catholic Church, and the Vatican.
After the publication of the Murphy Report, Taoiseach Brian Cowen agreed that the commission had been incorrect not to have used diplomatic channels.
Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four, thought it was laughable that the Vatican would have been offended by the request for information from the Murphy Commission.
This supported the view that the Catholic Church had continuously failed to accept institutional responsibility for sexual crimes against children, she said.