Thursday 22 August 2019

Vatican: We didn’t interfere in Cloyne sex abuse cases

Bishop Magee in St. Colman' s Cathedral, Cobh


The Vatican today denied that it sought to interfere with Irish civil law in response to accusations of the ‘downplaying the rape of children’ led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

A statement said that it has significant reservations about the speech made by the Taoiseach and said that the accusation that the Holy See attempted to “frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign democratic republic is unfounded”.

It had in no way hampered or sought to interfere with in any inquiry into child sex abuse cases in the Diocese of Cloyne and it had not sought to interfere with Irish civil law or impeded the civil authorities in the exercise of its duties, the statement said.

It pointed out that there was no evidence cited in the Cloyne Report to support the claim that its supposed intervention had contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the State.

A 20 page response from the Vatican has been received by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

The Cloyne Report found how the Cork diocese failed to report nine out of fifteen complaints made against priests between 1996 and 2005.

It also revealed how the former Bishop John Magee misled a previous inquiry and gave a false account of how he was handling allegations

The Taoiseach’s speech in the Dail on July 20 last was recognised at home and abroad as a historic condemnation of the Vatican for attempting to cover up the sexual abuse of children.

The uncompromising tone of his address sent shockwaves through the Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican. Ireland has traditionally had a subservient relationship with the Holy See.

In an unprecedented departure from previously diplomatic church-State relations, Mr Kenny directly accused the Catholic hierarchy of down-playing the rape of children to protect its own power and reputation.

He highlighted how the recent report into abuse in the Cloyne diocese highlighted the "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day".

He said: "The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'."

Responding to Mr Kenny's speech, an emotional Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, later described some of his fellow bishops as being part of a "cabal" who refuse to recognise the rules of the church.

And he called for the Catholic Church's child abuse watchdog to be given powers to compel bishops to co-operate with audits into dioceses.

Mr Kenny’s speech was widely welcomed by victims of clerical abuse, who have reacted with dismay to Rome's muted denials that clergy were told not to report abuse claims.

After delivering the strongest speech in his tenure as Taoiseach -- and possibly his career -- Mr Kenny spoke passionately about how "the revelations of the Cloyne Report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture".

"Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland's brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy reports," he added.

Mr Kenny hit out at the Vatican's reaction to the harrowing evidence given by victims of clerical abuse, which he said was "parsed and analysed by a canon lawyer".

The Taoiseach said he agreed with Dr Martin that the church needed to publish all similar reports as soon as possible.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Martin appeared to fight back tears as he spoke of how he was angry, ashamed and appalled by the behaviour of bishops who shielded abusers from gardai.

"I find myself today asking ... can I be proud of the church, what I am seeing, I have to be ashamed of these things and I have to be ashamed because of what is being done to victims and what has been done to people in the church," he said.

"Those who felt they were able to play tricks with norms, they have betrayed those good men and so many others in the church who are working today and I am angry, ashamed and appalled by that," he added.

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