Gilmore stands by criticism of Holy See but greets 'constructive dialogue'


THE GOVERNMENT has not invited, nor does it plan to invite Pope Benedict to visit Ireland next year, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said.

Welcoming the Vatican statement last month that it was sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which victims of abuse and their families had endured, Mr Gilmore said the Government maintained that a 1997 letter to Ireland’s Catholic bishops from the then papal nuncio allowed some clergy to avoid co-operation with civil authorities in dealing with child abuse.

That “strictly confidential” letter he referred to described the 1996 child protection Framework Document, published by the Irish bishops, as “merely a study document” and expressed “serious reservations of a canonical and moral nature” at its directive that there be mandatory reporting of such crimes to civil authorities.

The Tánaiste was writing in response to a question from Independent TD Catherine Murphy.

He said that “having considered carefully the Cloyne Report and the response of the Holy See, the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 from the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Storero, to the Irish bishops, regardless of whether or not it was intended to do so, provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full co-operation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors”.

He said: “The Government of Ireland must point out that the comments made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders accurately reflect the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Holy See to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse and those who committed such appalling acts.”

It was the Government’s hope that, “in spite of outstanding differences, lessons have been learned from appalling past failures. In this regard, it welcomes the commitment in the concluding remarks of the Holy See’s response to a constructive dialogue and co-operation with the Government,” he said.