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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Stunned Vatican prepares 'considered' response to Kenny's attack

Fionnan Sheahan, John Cooney and Kevin Keane

THE Vatican has been "stung" by Taoiseach Enda Kenny's unprecedented condemnation of the Holy See over its attempts to cover up sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne.

Well-placed sources in Rome revealed last night that senior prelates in the Roman Curia were working on a "considered response" to the Cloyne Report, as demanded by the Government.

"But clearly they have been stung by Taoiseach Enda Kenny's unprecedented cogent criticisms on Wednesday that they were steeped in a climate of 'narcissism'," one source told the Irish Independent.

The Vatican's retreat into silence came after the Pope's spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, inflamed the row on Tuesday when he said it was his personal opinion that there was nothing in the advice given by the papal nuncio in 1997 that would encourage bishops to break Irish laws.

Rome came under further fire throughout yesterday as more politicians, senior church figures in Ireland and survivors' groups came out in support of Mr Kenny's hardline stance.

Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway has called on the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church to resign.

He also said Taoiseach Enda Kenny's speech had shown that he was "plugged in to the pulse of the people" and that he understood the absolute horror at what had happened in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Further criticism was directed at the Holy See when Carlow-based cleric Fr PJ Madden, a prominent member of the Association of Catholic priests, spoke out in favour of "an impressive" Mr Kenny.

"The Vatican should back off and let us solve the problems as an independent people," Fr Madden added.

Meanwhile, the influential Catholic journalist and author, Robert Blair Kaiser, also applauded Mr Kenny.

"It is about time that some Irish leaders challenged the pretensions of the Vatican," Mr Kaiser told this newspaper.

American Survivors of Abuse said no high-ranking government official anywhere in the world had denounced atrocities committed by church officials as Enda Kenny has.

Speaking from Chicago, Barbara Blane commended Mr Kenny for being "the first government leader to demand accountability, not only from his nation's bishops but from the Vatican".

Survivors' support group One in Four said it had received an overwhelmingly positive response to Mr Kenny's speech.

"I think people feel that at last the Irish Government is taking charge and beginning to lay down markers as to what is acceptable in this State regarding the safety of children," director Maeve Lewis said.

Abuse survivor and author Andrew Madden, who watched Mr Kenny's speech from the Dail's public gallery, said he was very impressed.

He said: "It's a very welcome change from the inappropriate deferential stuff we've had from his two predecessors and I think what Enda Kenny said is much more in keeping with public anger and disgust."

A high-profile retired Irish bishop last night also said Mr Kenny's "severe" criticism was justified.

Bishop Willie Walsh, who stood down last year as head of the Killaloe diocese, said he recalled that all the Irish bishops had agreed to implement the 1996 child-protection guidelines, despite not receiving the Vatican's approval. "In our discussions at Maynooth I never heard Bishop John Magee or any bishop saying they did not need to apply them because they did not have Vatican approval."

Bishop Walsh welcomed the Government's plans to make obligatory reporting of suspected child clerical abuse.

"Bishops and priests should have no special treatment in law," he said.


Meanwhile, a senior bishop admitted that people's trust in the church had been broken.

Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O'Reilly, who hails from Cobh, the centre of the Cloyne diocese, admitted he was still in a state of "shock".

"People's faith has been rocked. Over the last four or five years the church has had a succession of reports, one more damaging than the other.

"You trusted people to do the right thing. The sense of trust has now been broken.

"It was always a wonderful thing that people did trust priests but now something has snapped," he added.

Kenny's speech was hysterical church-bashing. Comment

Irish Independent

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