Victims' group criticises Vatican


The Vatican is still not accepting responsibility for its role in creating the culture of cover-ups of the sexual abuse of children, it was claimed today.

One in Four, which supports survivors of abuse, expressed disappointment over the Vatican's failure to acknowledge that its interventions in the abuse scandal had allowed church leaders to ignore guidelines and to protect the Church at the expense of the safety of children.

"While we welcome the findings of the Visitation that the Irish Church now has good child protection practices in place we feel it is a lost opportunity to address the role played by the Vatican in perpetuating the policy of protecting abusive priests at the expense of children," said executive director Maeve Lewis.

One in Four founder Colm O'Gorman said the seven-page document offered very little of value and was "almost farcical" in place.

Speaking on Newstalk radio he said that while the Church had put a number of guidelines in place, it had resolutely failed to follow or respect them.

"Nowhere in this statement or in any statement the Vatican has ever made, has it acknowledged its responsibility for the cover-up of these crimes (and) for its failure to properly address these crimes at any point," he said.

"There's a big difference between expressing sorrow of saying that you are truly sorry for the suffering of another and accepting responsibility for that."

Christine Buckley from the Aislin Centre said the Vatican had once again failed to acknowledge the enormous damage done to children.

It's actually a regression instead of a progression," she said.

Fellow abuse survivor Andrew Madden said the Vatican had "failed yet again to acknowledge and take responsibility for its role in facilitating a culture of cover up which has caused the sexual abuse of so many children."

"Continued calls for ‘forgiveness’ are meaningless in this context," he added.

The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) said the report was welcome but was not a substitute for accountability to State structures.

The US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap), which has over 12,000 members, was also critical of the report.

"Only decisive action creates reform. And when it comes to this on-going, heinous scandal, decisive action by the church hierarchy seems to be forever lacking," said Barbara Sorris, the group's outreach director.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was satisfied from his discussions with church authorities that it is giving full cooperation on child protection issues.

Speaking outside the White House after his meeting with US president Barack Obama yesterday, Mr Kenny said every agency working with children had a duty and a responsibility to work in full compliance with the Government as it worked to set in place proper child protection through a referendum to be held later this year.

Mr Kenny said he hadn't had a chance to consider the Vatican report but would read it when he got the opportunity.

Fianna Fáil said the report offered no new perspective on the abuse crisis. The party's spokesman on children Charlie McConalogue said however that it served to highlight the need for prompter action on a range of concrete child protection measures.

Sinn Féin said the report failed to acknowledge the full responsibility of Church institutions.

“By remaining silent on the Vatican's own role as highlighted as recently as July last year in the Cloyne Report, this Vatican summary fails to acknowledge the full responsibility of Church institutions," said the party's spokesman on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin