Dublin: Vatican Conspired To Frustrate Cloyne Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Taoiseach

20 Jul

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry.

'The Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism...the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day'

‘The Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism…the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day’

RTÉ.ie Extra Video: Enda Kenny's Dáil statement on the Cloyne Report
 
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry, accusing it of downplaying the rape of children to protect its power and reputation.

Mr Kenny was speaking during Dáil statements on the report. (Read)

Never before has a Taoiseach used such language in criticising the Catholic Church.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Cloyne Report highlighted the ‘dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’

The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

The hierarchy had proved either unwilling or unable to address what he called the horrors uncovered in successive reports, a failure which he said must be devastating for so many good priests.

Mr Kenny said that the Catholic Church needed to be truly and deeply penitent for the wrongdoing it perpetrated, hid and denied.

‘Instead of listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal,’ Mr Kenny pointed out that the Vatican’s reaction had been to parse and analyse it, with the eye of a canon lawyer.

‘This position is the polar opposite of the radicalism, the humility and the compassion that the Church had been founded on.’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said what was done was not just to avoid scandal – it involved the wilful refusal to respect basic moral and legal responsibilities.

Mr Martin said no-one had any excuse for not knowing what to do when there was even a suspicion of child abuse.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the report shows it had learned nothing since the Fr Brendan Smith scandal.

The all-party motion on the Cloyne report condemning the Vatican’s role in child protection was discussed in the Dáil this afternoon.

The motion ‘deplores the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish bishops.’

One of the main findings of the report was that the diocese failed to report nine out of 15 complaints made against priests, which ‘very clearly should have been reported’.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, has said that there was nothing in the advice given by the papal nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.

He said that the Vatican’s advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the comments were disingenuous and he said he expected a more considered, formal response from the Vatican.

Shatter to bring National Vetting Bureau proposals

Mr Shatter has told the Dáil he will bring proposals to Government to set up a National Vetting Bureau and to put the screening of those working with young people and vulnerable adults on a statutory basis.

Mr Shatter said the bill he was preparing would also provide for the disclosure of so called ‘soft information’ for the purpose of child protection.

He said he hopes to bring Heads of the Bill to the Government next week.

NEWS UPDATE:

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Cloyne report told ‘a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children’
 
Taoiseach Enda Kenny today told the Dáil the Cloyne report exposed an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate the inquiry into clerical sex abuse.
 
Addressing the House, Mr Kenny said: “The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

“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. . . . This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.”

“The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture,” the Taoiseach said.

“It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

“Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic . . . as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

Mr Kenny said the Cloyne report told “a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children”. He said although the report had shown the need for the Vatican “to get its house in order”, it also revealed how the State had failed victims too.

“For too long Ireland has neglected its children,” he said.

“This is not Rome. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011, a republic of laws,” Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny was speaking during a Government motion on the report that “deplores the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish State and the Irish bishops”.

It expresses “dismay at the disturbing findings of the report and at the inadequate and inappropriate response, particularly of the church authorities in Cloyne, to complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse.”

Also speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the report’s findings were unambiguous.

“We cannot correct past wrongs perpetrated on our children, but we can take action to prevent, insofar as is possible, the wrongs of the past being perpetrated on our children in the future,” he said.

“We cannot depend on the undertakings of others to correct failings and introduce robust and effective structures of protection. Cloyne irrefutably confirms that some who, in the past, gave such undertakings acted in bad faith,” the Minister told the Dáil.

Earlier today, Mr Shatter said comments made by Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi about the Cloyne report were “somewhat unfortunate and disingenuous”.

Making his first extended comments on the implications of the report, Fr Lombardi said yesterday there was nothing in the advice given by the papal nuncio to Irish bishops which could be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.

Fr Lombardi said a controversial letter from papal nuncio Luciano Storero in 1997 was grossly misinterpreted following publication of the report last week.

Speaking in favour of the all-party Oireachtas motion, Sinn Féin spokesman on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it was “high time” the church stopped believing itself to be above the law. He asked how many inquiries would be needed before real action was taken on this “dreadful neglect”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore last night ruled out expelling the current papal nuncio, however. A spokesman said the Government needed to ensure that diplomatic channels remained open in order to communicate its views to the Vatican and receive its response. Mr Gilmore said the Government was awaiting a formal response from the Vatican to the Cloyne report.

His spokesman said: “While a deadline for a response was not set, the Tánaiste has made it clear that if a response is not forthcoming in a reasonable time frame, it will be followed up on.”

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