Lack of ambassador should not hamper Vatican response


DIPLOMACY:THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs says the Government’s demand for a response from the Vatican to the Cloyne report will not be hampered by the fact that Ireland currently has no ambassador to the Holy See.

The previous ambassador, Noel Fahey, retired last month, and Ireland’s interests in the Vatican are currently represented by Helena Kelleher, first secretary at the Embassy.

Mr Fahey would be replaced promptly in normal circumstances but because of the strained relations with the Vatican and the economic crisis, no action has yet been taken on an appointment.

A spokesman for the department said yesterday the absence of an Irish ambassador would not be a factor that affected communications between Ireland and the Holy See.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore last week called in the papal nuncio, Giuseppe Leanza, a day after the publication of the Cloyne report and has demand a considered response from the Vatican.

He said he expected this to come “in a reasonable timeframe”.

The department spokesman pointed out that the Vatican’s reply was expected to come through the papal nuncio in Ireland rather than through the Irish Embassy in the Vatican as this was the channel of communication opened by the Government with the Holy See.

He said no response had yet been received from the Vatican.

Last December it emerged from US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks that earlier requests for information from the Murphy commission caused offence in the Vatican. The Vatican believed the government “failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations,” the cables disclosed.

In 2006, the commission, which was then investigating the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese, wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seeking information on reports of clerical child sex abuse sent to it by the archdiocese. The congregation did not reply.

Similar requests by the commission to the papal nuncio in Dublin were also ignored. Instead then Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote to the Irish Embassy, advising that any requests related to the investigation should come through diplomatic channels.