Papal nuncio 'distressed' by report


The papal nuncio today said he was “very distressed” by the report into child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Speaking after a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore in Dublin this afternoon, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza said he would bring a copy of the report to the attention of the Holy See immediately.

“I am very distressed myself again by the failures in assuring the protection of children within the church despite all the good work that has been done,” he said.

“I wish to say, however, the total commitment of the Holy See for its part to taking all the necessary measures to assure protection.”

The report accuses the Vatican, through its opposition to the Irish bishops’ procedures for handling child sexual abuse, of giving comfort to dissenters within the church who did not want to implement them. In a secret letter to the bishops, Rome describes the 1996 rules as “merely a study document” and not official.

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican’s intervention in Irish affairs was “absolutely unacceptable” and “inappropriate”. He said he had told Dr Leanza that an explanation and response was required as to why the Vatican had told priests and bishops they could undermine Irish rules.

“I want to know why this state, with which we have diplomatic relations, issued a communication, the effect of which was that very serious matter of the abuse of children in this country was not reported to the authorities,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the Vatican had conveyed a message that somehow it was “all right to evade responsibility” for reporting these matters to the Irish authorities.

“What happened here should not have happened. What happened here was a totally inappropriate, unjustified and unacceptable by the Vatican in the reporting arrangements even within the context of the arrangements of the church itself.”

The Minister said he felt the archbishop  had taken on board his concerns.

Asked if he felt Pope Benedict XVI should respond, Mr Gilmore said it was up to the Vatican to decide who communicated with Ireland. He said he had not set a deadline for a response but that he would judge what represented an appropriate period of time to respond to the formal request from the Government.

Asked if he believed the Vatican’s embassy in Ireland should be closed following its poor interaction with the commissions investigating child abuse here, Mr Gilmore said it was an entirely different matter. “We want a response first,” he said.