Ireland’s prime minister maintains the Vatican interfered in investigation of clergy sexual abuse
Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny still maintains the Vatican interfered in a government investigation of clergy sexual abuse of children.
The Irish prime minister asserted the Vatican failed to fully cooperate in the government’s Murphy commission, which was tasked to investigate charges of sexual abuse of children by 19 priests in the diocese of Cloyne, that spanned over a decade.
“[My] claim in the Dail (Irish parliament) still stands. I made the point that this is a statutory commission of inquiry, and as such nothing less than full cooperation is required and anything less than full cooperation in my view is unwarranted interference,” Kenny told Irish Times.
The Vatican responded last Saturday to the Cloyne report, which was submitted in July, via a statement handed by undersecretary for state relations, Ettore Balestrero, to Ireland’s deputy ambassador to the Vatican, Helena Keleher.
The official statement noted that the Holy See is “sorry and ashamed” by the findings of the report, which investigated over 10 years of child sexual abuse by 19 clergy in Cloyne.
The Vatican admitted that the Church handled the matter poorly, but rejected accusations that it covered up or tried to hinder the government investigation.
Lack of accountability, secrecy
“The document reveals the Vatican’s efforts to continue to absolve itself of any responsibility for the cover-up of the abuse,” victim Andrew Madden, who contributed evidence to the report, told Irish Times.
Advocate Maeve Lewis of One in Four told Irish Times the Vatican “[created] a culture where secrecy and cover-ups were routinely used to maintain the reputation of the church while placing children at continued risk of sexual abuse.”
Lewis further told Irish Central, “The Vatican is completely out of touch with public outrage regarding church management of child abuse.”
The Vatican furthermore denied that it undermined Irish civil law. In July, Ireland’s parliament rebuked the Holy See for undercutting child protection laws by referring, in a letter to Irish bishops, to government guidelines on reporting child sexual abuse as “study guidelines.”
The Cloyne report, which was published in July, slammed the Church for its poor response to the plentiful claims of child abuse in the Cloyne diocese, that were filed against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009.
The report also criticized former Cloyne bishop John Magee, who served as private secretary to popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II successively, for shying away from daily management of cases of child abuse. Magee resigned last year.
The Cloyne report is the most recent account among a string of clergy sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Irish Catholic Church for decades. Hundreds of claims of child sexual abuse by priests have been documented.
The report spurred Ireland’s prime minister, Kenny, to say in July that the Church had a culture of “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism.”
Kenny reiterated his sentiments to Belfast Telegraph, adding, “As a member of the Catholic Church I want to see that the church … is absolutely above reproach.”