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Historic speech ends tradition of bowing to the Vatican - victims

CHILD abuse survivors have praised Taoiseach Enda Kenny's powerful, historic condemnation of the Vatican for trying to cover-up the sex abuse scandal.

The Taoiseach delivered a groundbreaking Dail address on behalf of the government, directly accusing the Catholic hierarchy of down-playing the rape of children to protect its own power and reputation.

He said 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".

One in Four founder Colm O'Gorman has described the Taoiseach's stance as "groundbreaking" saying there were not enough superlatives to explain just how important his comments were to the future of the country.


As the Church-State relationship plunged to a historic low, Mr O'Gorman said the comments were likely to finally overcome the previous deference of Irish politicians to the Catholic hierarchy.

Survivor Andrew Madden called the new Dail position "a very welcome change in tone and content to the Government's predecessors".

The Taoiseach, he said, was "very honest" and had made it clear that some bishops were failing both the Church and the State by not putting all the information they had into the public domain.

One of the survivors mentioned in the recent Cloyne report added: "I never thought I'd hear a Taoiseach make such a strong speech against the Vatican.

"It was brilliant and I was very proud of him and thankful to him".

In his uncompromising statement on the Cloyne report, Mr Kenny said it had excavated the "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism" dominating 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."

Delivering what was arguably the strongest speech of his career, Mr Kenny spoke passionately about how the revelations of the Cloyne Report had brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an "unprecedented juncture".

Mr Kenny hit out at the Vatican's reaction to the harrowing evidence given by victims of clerical abuse.

"Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict's 'ear of the heart', the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer."

An emotional Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, responded to Mr Kenny's remarks.

He accused some of his fellow bishops as being part of a "cabal" who refuse to recognise the rules of the church.

The Taoiseach's comments, he added, should be a "wake-up call" to immoral priests and dishonest clergymen standing in the way of improved child protection standards.

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

"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 added.

See Analysis pages 12-13