Rome: Vatican Recalls Its Ambassador To Ireland Over Cover-Up Of Clerical Child Sex Abuse: UPDATED

25 Jul

LATEST NEWS UPDATE:

(Reuters) – The Vatican has recalled its ambassador in Ireland after Dublin criticised the Church’s role in covering up child sex abuse.

The Irish parliament last week passed a motion deploring the Vatican for “undermining child protection frameworks” in the country.

The criticism followed a damning report on the handling of sex abuse reports in the diocese of Cloyne in county Cork. Ireland has published a series of reports on allegations of child abuse by priests and members of religious orders. Here are some details of their findings:

* OCTOBER 2005:

— An inquiry was set up following the resignation in 2002 of the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, when it emerged he had been aware of the activities of an abusive priest in the diocese, but failed to protect the victims. The priest, Father Sean Fortune, committed suicide in 1999 after he was charged with multiple sex offences.

— The 270-page report detailed the Church’s handling of 100 allegations of abuse against 21 priests in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford dating back to the mid-1960s. Among the allegations were accusations of rape.

— The Ferns probe found that for 20 years the bishop in charge of the rural diocese did not expel priests against whom abuse allegations were made, but simply transferred them to a different post or diocese temporarily.

* MAY 2009:

— The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report which found that priests abused children between the 1930s and the 1970s in Catholic-run institutions.

— The harrowing report, which took nine years to complete, said orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland were places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse.

— The Commission, chaired by a High Court judge, blasted successive generations of priests, nuns and Christian Brothers — a Catholic religious order — for beating, starving and, in some cases raping, children.

— The Commission interviewed 1,090 men and women who were housed in 216 institutions including children’s homes, hospitals and schools. They told of children scavenging for food from waste bins. Youngsters were flogged, scalded and held under water, they said.

* NOVEMBER 2009:

The Murphy report, begun in 2006, reported on widespread child abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese between 1975 and 2004, and said the Church in Ireland had “obsessively” concealed the abuse.

— All archbishops in charge at that time were aware of some complaints and the archdiocese was pre-occupied with protecting the reputation of the Church over and above protecting children’s welfare, the report said. It said the Church was “obsessively” concerned with secrecy and operated a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” about abuse.

— The report, designed to show how the Church and state responded to charges of abusing children, said a representative sample of 46 priests against whom complaints were levelled made it “abundantly clear” that abuse was widespread.

* JULY 2011:

— The report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork, showed that senior-ranking clergy were still trying to cover up abuse allegations almost until the present day.

— The report focussed on 19 priests who allegedly abused children during a period from January 1996 to February 2009. It listed how the diocese failed to report all sexual abuse complaints to the police and did not report any complaints to the health authorities between 1996 and 2008.

— The bishop formerly responsible for the diocese, John Magee, falsely told the authorities he was reporting all abuse allegations to the police, the report said. He resigned in March 2010 after a Church investigation said his handling of abuse allegations had exposed children to risk.

(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

 

NEWS UPDATE:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland following accusations that the Vatican sabotaged efforts by Catholic bishops to report clerical sex abuse cases to police.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore summoned papal ambassador Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza two weeks ago and demanded an official response from the Vatican. The Vatican has said it will issue one at the “opportune time” but has not done so yet.

Vatican Radio said Monday that Leanza has now been recalled to Rome.

Repercussions from the long-running scandal have grown increasingly bitter, with Ireland’s lawmakers making an unprecedented denunciation of the Holy See’s influence in the predominantly Catholic country.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny denounced to lawmakers last week what he called “the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism — and the narcissism — that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

It was the first time in the past 17 years of pedophile-priest scandals in Ireland that parliamentarians have taken on the Vatican rather than local church leaders. Revelations of widespread abuse have eroded Catholic authority in a nation where the church still owns most schools and several hospitals, and state broadcasters still toll a twice-daily call to Catholic prayer.

A confidential 1997 Vatican letter — originally published by The Associated Press in January — instructed Irish bishops to handle child-abuse cases strictly under terms of canon law. It warned bishops that their 1996 child-protection policy, particularly its emphasis on the need to start reporting all suspected crimes to police, violated canon law.

Kenny said Catholic canon law had “neither legitimacy nor (a) place in the affairs of this country.” He pledged to press ahead with new laws making it a crime to withhold evidence of child abuse — even if the information was attained during a priest’s confession. The Catholic Church insists that the contents of confessions must never be revealed.

The Vatican’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi last week promised to respond and expressed hope the debate on the scandals will play out “objectively” and restore a climate of trust in the church and Irish society.

NEWS UPDATE:

The Vatican Press Office has confirmed the Holy See has recalled its ambassador to Ireland.

Giuseppe Leanza - Recalled to Rome in highly unusual step

Giuseppe Leanza – Recalled to Rome in highly unusual step
The Vatican Press Office has confirmed the Holy See has recalled its ambassador to Ireland following accusations by the Government that it had undermined child protection efforts by the Catholic hierarchy.

Deputy Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Apostolic Nuncio of Ireland, had been recalled from Dublin for consultations.

The highly unusual step follows last week’s unprecedented rebuke of the Holy See by the Government in the wake of the Cloyne Report, which accused Church authorities of concealing the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week 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.

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

————–

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland following severe criticism by the Irish parliament of the Church‘s role in covering up child sex abuse, a spokesman said on Monday.

Deputy Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Apostolic Nuncio of Ireland, had been recalled from Dublin for consultations.

The highly unusual step follows last week’s unprecedented rebuke of the Holy See by the Irish parliament in the wake of a report which accused Church authorities of concealing the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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