The Vatican has finally responded to the scathing criticism directed at them by the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. A few months ago the findings of the Cloyne report revealed on-going abuse and cover-up, so caused considerable anger. In response the Taoiseach (the head of the Irish government) stood up in the Dail (the Irish Parliment) and gave a speech in which he described “the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” in the Vatican and accused them of interferring by blocking the reporting of abuse to the Irish Authorities.
A 25 page reply from the Vatican has now been issued in which they state:
“… significant reservations that the speech made by Enda Kenny… in particular, the accusation that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign democratic republic, is unfounded.”
The Irish government stated that they will respond in due course, and need time to examine the verbose 25 page reply. In a preliminary statement, Tánaiste (deputy prime minister of Ireland) Eamon Gilmore stated that it was only possible to give an initial reaction at this time, and stated in writing…
“some of the argumentation advanced by the Holy See in its Response is very technical and legalistic. The Government’s concerns were never about the status of church documents but rather about the welfare of children.
In relation to the Framework Document, I remain of the view that the 1997 letter from the then Nuncio provided a pretext for some to avoid full cooperation with the Irish Civil authorities.
The sexual abuse of children is such a heinous and reprehensible crime that issues about the precise status of documents should not be allowed to obscure the obligation of people in positions of responsibility to deal promptly with such abuse and report it.
The sense of betrayal which was felt by Irish people about this matter, and which was clearly expressed by the Taoiseach, came about not only because of the nature of child abuse itself but also because of the unique position which the Catholic Church enjoyed in this country, manifested in many ways, over many decades.
Yes indeed, the Vatican are simply quibbling about the precise status of documents, and so they do not address the key point to explain why some appalling abuse took place on their watch.
It is indeed a typical Vatican reply, here are some of my own observations:
- Their reply has no author, it is an anonymous document on behalf of the Holy See, so I guess nobody wants to be associated with it.
- Their claim .. “the Diocese of Cloyne,… its priests, the majority of whom are irreproachable and continue to do much good” … fails to acknowledge that they all knew what was going on and failed to act. It’s the, “It was just a few bad priests” claim and avoids the fact that this is not just about abuse, but is also about the conspiracy to cover it all up.
- They avoid addressing any of the serious issues raised by the Cloyne report with the excuse …
“Since the Cloyne Report is being examined by the relevant Irish civil authorities with a view to determining whether there are grounds for criminal and civil prosecution, the Holy See does not wish to encroach on matters which may currently be the object of study and investigation by these instances.“,
so this 25 page reply only relates to what the Taoiseach said.
- They outline their child protection rules, yet these have been proven to be meaningless as illustrated by the Cloyne report
- They outline they views regarding the Holy See’s view regarding cooperation between Church and civil authorities … yet the 1997 letter clearly demonstrated their priority is to protect priests. They also make a big deal about this letter being taken out of context.
What cannot be avoided are the facts … the abuse and the cover-up happened, and continued to happen long after they claimed to have sorted things out, so while they might wrangle and quibble about details, they cannot avoid that reality.
Should we take this reply seriously? Not really, folks who make an entire career out of promoting an imaginary friend only deserve to be mocked and ridiculed, not respected. They once enjoyed a position of privilege, and have now been proven to have grossly abused that trust. The only way we can be truly sure about child safety is to ensure they are never again permitted to hold such a position.
The executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, said he was struck by the Vatican’s “totally disingenuous” portrayal of its role in the abuse scandals.
“Nowhere in the 26 pages could I read or even discern a basic acceptance of the principle that with an assertion of supreme authority must come an acceptance of very significant levels of responsibility,”
Links for further reading
- The Vatican’s 25 Page Reply
- Irish Times key extracts from the Vatican reply – they also have links here to lots of related articles
- BBC News on Bishop asking Irish PM to explain ‘global’ statement
- Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny is refusing to back down from his claims that Catholic Church authorities frustrated investigations into child sex abuse.
- Gilmore hits back in Vatican row
- Victims disappointed with response
- Great blog Posting on all this by Dublin Writer Michael Nugent – Is the Vatican cooperating fully with the Irish Government?
- Kenny stands firm over Vatican row – Belfast Telegraph 6 Sept