'Brazen' disregard shown - Kenny

Wed, Jul 20, 2011, 01:00

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.”