Wednesday 21 March 2018

Taoiseach v Vatican: Kenny accuses Rome of interference

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted he stands by his unprecedented attack on the Vatican, accusing it of unwarranted interference with a state inquiry into clerical abuse.

Mr Kenny said the Holy See had three times stymied requests for information from investigations into paedophile priests and insisted nothing less than full cooperation was required.

The Vatican branded Mr Kenny's allegations that it frustrated the devastating probe into clerical abuse in the Co Cork Diocese of Cloyne as "unfounded".

Mr Kenny said: "I made the point that this is a statutory commission of inquiry and as such nothing less than full cooperation is required, and anything less than full cooperation in my view is unwarranted interference."

The Taoiseach has faced calls from the Catholic hierarchy to explain why he accused the Vatican of interfering with investigations as recently as three years ago.

Mr Kenny said he was expressing the anger, frustrations and concerns of the Irish people.

"As a member of the Catholic Church I want to see the Church of which I am a member as absolutely above reproach in the issue of this and other areas," Mr Kenny said.

"And for that reason, my claim in the Dail still stands, because this was a statutory commission of inquiry.

"And in 2006, and 2007 and in 2009 there were requests for information and assistance to the Vatican by the Murphy Commission and in each of these cases that request was either refused or rejected."

The deepening diplomatic row between the Irish Government and the Vatican was sparked by fractured relations during an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations in the Cloyne Diocese.

But relations were already strained after a previous inquiry requested information from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking for information about paedophile priests in the Dublin Archdiocese, but received no reply.

The Taoiseach claimed in the Dail on July 20 that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry by warning the chairman to use diplomatic channels to seek answers from the Vatican.

The church in Rome responded on Saturday with a 25-page document rejecting accusations of interference.

The Vatican's spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi questioned what was in the Taoiseach's mind when he made the statement.

While the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called for the Taoiseach to give an explanation, Tanaiste and deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore said the Government stands by the speech.

In the wake of the Taoiseach's Dail comments the Vatican's Papal Nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was recalled to Rome to prepare the response to criticisms which focused on the hierarchy's failure to follow child-protection guidelines, including reporting to civil authorities.

In its long-awaited response, the Vatican flatly rejected accusations from Mr Kenny that it attempted to frustrate the state inquiry into Cloyne, claiming it was unfounded.

The Cabinet is likely to discuss the Vatican document when it meets on Thursday after the coalition Government partners, Fine Gael and Labour, finish separate two-day party meetings ahead of the new Dail term.

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