Archbishop calls on Taoiseach to explain claim


ARCHBISHOP OF Dublin Diarmuid Martin has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to explain his claim that the Vatican attempted to frustrate an inquiry into clerical abuse in Ireland as recently as three years ago.

Speaking after the Holy See issued its response to Government criticisms of it after the Cloyne report, Dr Martin said a reference in Mr Kenny’s intervention to “an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic” needed verification.“There is no evidence presented in the Murphy report to substantiate this, the Holy See could find no evidence and the Department of An Taoiseach’s office said that the Taoiseach was not referring to any specific event. This merits explanation,” he said.

Dr Martin said the Holy See response was “serious, sober in tone” and addressed “broader questions of church policy on child safeguarding”. “My hope is that it will be understood and received as such and not be an occasion just for added polemics,” he said during a press conference at his home in Dublin on Saturday.

Yesterday, Dr Martin described Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s description of the Vatican’s response as “very technical and legalistic” as “a bit unfair”.

At the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Ballyfermot, where he marked the official handing over of the parish from the diocesan clergy to the Redemptorists, he said: “The Vatican responded to the questions they were asked and some of the questions were about norms and legislation. It is a bit unfair to say that they gave technical answers – they were technical questions.”

At the press conference on Saturday, Dr Martin said the Holy See response was a “gentlemanly phrased statement” and that he hoped it would receive a “gentlemanly phrased response”.

Dr Martin said the Vatican’s branding of a 1996 Irish bishops’ framework document on child protection as a “study document” was unfortunate, but it did not impede Irish attempts to implement safeguarding measures.

He said a “few” people in the church – who regarded only their own views and did not take note of framework documents or papal norms – had caused huge damage.

“If you look at it, the [Vatican] intervention did not in fact impede the Irish bishops in unanimously approving the framework document, in applying it and in consistently developing that framework into the current positions of the Irish church,” he said.

“The term ‘study document’ was an unfortunate term. However, it wasn’t a law. It was the recommendations from a committee to the bishops, which they then decided to accept themselves.”

Asked whether he felt there was a cabal in the church acting to frustrate implementation of child protection measures, Dr Martin said: “There may be a cabal in Cloyne. They may have friends in other parts of the Irish church. They may have friends in Irish society. There may be friends in the Vatican. The numbers that are involved in this are few. The damage that these people cause is horrendous. It’s for all of us to try and see where they are, but in the long term I have to take the responsibility that in Dublin there are not cabals who reject our child protection laws.”

He said current standards and guidance documents had the support of Pope Benedict. These, he said, were described in the Cloyne report as “high standards which, if fully implemented, would afford proper protection to children”.

He added: “The primary responsibility for monitoring child safeguarding measures in any dimension of Irish society belongs – I repeat – with the State.”