Rome: Vatican Responds To Criticism After Cloyne Clerical Child Sex Abuse Report

3 Sep


Vatican: No evidence the Holy See meddled in State affairs

The Vatican has formally responded to the findings of the Cloyne report and to criticism levelled against it by the Government in the wake of its publication.

In a 20-page statement issued this morning, the Vatican vigorously rejects accusations that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report priests who sexually abused children to Gardaí.

In July of this year the Cloyne report was published detailing a litany of abuse complaints against 19 priest in diocese in Cork.

The inquiry found how the diocese failed to report nine out of 15 complaints of child sex abuse made against priests between 1996 and 2005 when child protection procedures were already in place.

It also revealed how the former Bishop John Magee misled a previous inquiry and gave a false account of how he was handling allegations.

Crucially the report found that a decision by the Vatican to categorise a framework document on child sexual abuse, agreed by the Irish Bishops Conference in 1996, as “not an official document ” effectively gave individual Irish Bishops the freedom to ignore the guidelines.

The findings prompted the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make a landmark speech and launch a scathing attack against the Vatican – describing their attitude as “dysfunctional” and “elitist”.

Today, the Vatican gave their response to these criticisms.

In a statement to the Government the Vatican said that Enda Kenny’s claims, were “unfounded” and based on an incorrect reading of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to Gardaí.

The Vatican also rejected accusations it diminished the policy’s seriousness, saying the bishops themselves never sought to make it binding.

It also states that there is no evidence in the Cloyne report to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish State or, for that matter, was involved in the day-to-day management of Irish dioceses or religious congregations with respect to sexual abuse issues.

“In particular, the accusation that the Holy See attempted ’to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago’, which Mr Kenny made no attempt to substantiate, is unfounded,” the Vatican said.

A Government spokesperson has said the Vatican’s reaction to the report is now “being considered” by the Taoiseach and Government Ministers.

The Vatican has issued its response to criticism of it by the Government following the release of the Cloyne Report in July.

Holy See denies it sought to interfere with Irish Civil Law

Holy See denies it sought to interfere with Irish Civil Law

The Vatican has issued its response to criticism of it by the Government following the release of the Cloyne Report.

The Vatican issued the 20-page response addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore.

The statement from the Vatican says “it has significant reservations that the speech made by Enda Kenny TD in the Dáil on the 20th of July, in particular, the accusation that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign democratic republic, is unfounded.”

The statement added that the Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Furthermore, the Vatican says that at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish Civil law or impeded the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.

The Holy See observes that there is no evidence cited anywhere in the Cloyne Report, to support the claim that its (i.e. the Vatican’s) supposed intervention contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish State.

The Cloyne Report scrutinized how both Church and State authorities handled complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse made against 19 priests working under Bishop John Magee in the Co Cork diocese between 1996 and 2009.

It found that Bishop Magee falsely told the Government and the HSE that the Catholic Diocese was reporting all allegations of clerical child sexual abuse to the civil authorities.

The response from the Vatican was prompted by scathing criticism levelled against it by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil in July in which he castigated what he termed “the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” in the Vatican.

The Vatican also responded to claims in the Cloyne Report that it referred to a Framework Document, drawn up by Irish Bishops, on how to deal with allegations of child sexual abuse as “not an official document..but merely a study document.”

It says that taken out of context the comments in the letter from Archbishop Storero to Irish Bishops “could be open to misinterpretation, giving rise to understandable criticism.”

It says this description was “not a dismissal of the serious efforts undertaken by Irish Bishops to address the grave problem of child sexual abuse.”

Rather the congregation “wished to ensure that nothing contained in the Framework Document would give rise to difficulties should appeals be lodged to the Holy See.”

The Vatican also refutes the claim that Irish Bishops sought recognition from Rome for the Framework Document but it was not forthcoming.

It says Irish Bishops did not, under Canon Law, seek ‘recongnito’ for the Framework Document, therefore the Holy See cannot be criticised for failing to grant what was never requested in the first place.

However, according to the Vatican, this would not have prevented applying the Framework Document in individual Dioceses.

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Keywords:  vatican, cloyne report, john magee, enda kenny, eamon gilmore

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