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Video: Vatican sparks fury as it denies abuse cover-up

THE Vatican has broken its silence on the Cloyne scandal by denying that clergy were told not to report abuse claims.

But the Vatican statement has been condemned by survivor support groups, who said it lacked credibility and branded it an insult to abuse victims.

Father Federico Lombardi directly contradicted the findings of the Cloyne Report and said it was "somewhat strange to see the Vatican criticised so heavily".

Irish bishops, he said, had never been instructed to withhold information on abuse cases, instead a meeting of the Bishops Conference had been told that neither the Church nor its priests should impede the course of civil justice.

The Cloyne Report was critical of a 1997 letter sent by the then Papal Nuncio to all Irish bishops advising them that their new framework document on child protection appeared "contrary to canonical discipline".

Claiming to be speaking in a personal rather than an official capacity, Fr Lombardi said: "There is no motive to interpret the letter in the way it has been, as an attempt to cover up cases of abuse.

"There is nothing in the letter which suggests not respecting the laws of the land." He added that the criticism of the Vatican since the publication of the Cloyne report went beyond any comments made by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy in the document itself, which he said was more balanced.

Maeve Lewis, of support group One in Four, described the response from Rome as "completely without substance" and "nothing short of scandalous".

"The Vatican has to accept that it has been involved in creating a culture for children to be abused," she said.

"Fr Lombardi's response was further evidence, if needed, that the Vatican's claim to prioritise the safety of children is completely lacking in credibility."

The Cloyne Report, which investigated how allegations against 19 priests were dealt with between 1996 and 2009, said the Vatican's response to the Church guidelines was entirely unhelpful and gave comfort and support to those who dissented from the guidelines, describing it as "wholly unacceptable".


In his interview with Radio Vatican yesterday, Fr Lombardi said the Church wanted "truth and a clean-up" of its operations in Ireland.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has already asked the Papal Nuncio in Ireland, Dr Giuseppe Leanza, to return to him with a full explanation on the comments made by the Vatican in 1997.

Last night, the Government announced that a new emergency placement service for children has been set up.

Gardai around the country can now ring a single phone number to access foster care arrangements nationwide on an out-of-hours basis.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said 260 additional social workers were also in place.

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