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article imageIreland's Prime Minister attacks Vatican over child abuse

By Andrew John     Jul 22, 2011 in World
Catholicism’s leading newspaper says the Vatican has never been attacked “so virulently” by an Irish Prime Minister before Enda Kenny’s scathing assault over child abuse.
Prime Minister Kenny was commenting on the Cloyne Report, which looks at how allegations against clerics of child abuse were handled in the Cloyne diocese in County Cork.
“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or managed to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation,” Kenny said earlier this week.
Kenny was responding to an investigation that found evidence of child abuse was being suppressed by a diocese in County Cork.
As the Guardian reports: "Irish lawmakers are connecting that report to a confidential 1997 Vatican letter — made public in January of this year — that in essence warned bishops not to report suspected child abuse cases if such a report violated canon law."
The inquiry was ordered in 2009 after reports of inadequate child protection in the diocese. It was not set up to look into whether child abuse actually took place.
The Irish broadcaster RTÉ lists some of the findings of the report, including that “The most serious lapse was the failure to report the two cases in which the alleged victims were minors at the time the complaint was made.”
Kenny has made an angry attack on the report and the Vatican. He says the Cloyne Report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago.”
The Catholic Herald story reports that Kenny has accused the Vatican of taking a “calculating, withering position” on abuse.
Two different accounts
The Cloyne Report, he said, “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”
The Herald story continues: “The Cloyne Report, published last week, found that Cloyne Bishop John Magee, a former secretary to three popes, paid ‘little or no attention’ to child safeguarding as recently as 2008. It said he falsely told the government that his diocese was reporting all allegations of clerical child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts – one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files – of a meeting with a priest-suspect.”
Kenny said the Vatican’s position was “the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.”
The Irish people, he said, “including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities herewith, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the state’s authorities.”
There was a tendency, identified in the Cloyne Report, to put the rights of the culprits before those of the victims, he said, and the Catholic Church needed to be “truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.”
Elitism, narcissism
A later Herald article says: “Never before has an Irish Prime Minister attacked the Vatican so virulently as Taoiseach Enda Kenny did yesterday, when he said: ‘The Cloyne report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’ ”
The Cloyne Report refers to a 2007 letter from the nuncio to Ireland at the time, Archbishop Luciano Storero. It referred to guidelines on mandatory reporting of incidents as “merely a study document.” But the report says this “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed and gave comfort and support to those who … dissented from the stated official Irish Church policy.”
Catholic Herald writer Rory Fitzgerald says the Irish state still awaits a formal response from the Vatican, but Fr Federico Lombardi, director its press office, has issued a response, which he says is not official.
Fitzgerald points out: “He argues that ‘there is absolutely nothing in the [1997] letter that is an invitation to disregard the laws of the country.’”
More about Catholic Church, Child sex abuse, cloyne report, Vatican, abusive priests
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