People's deep anger echoed in Kenny speech, says bishop


THE SPEECH by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Dáil on Wednesday “accurately reflects the deep anger of the people of Ireland at the contents of the Cloyne report and underlines the huge challenges ahead for the Catholic Church as a whole”, according to the Catholic Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey.

However, the Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Gerard Clifford, was “taken aback at the force and wide, sweeping nature of the Taoiseach’s address in the Dáil. I acknowledge the reason for the intensity of feeling expressed given the awful findings of the report.”

Fr Brendan Hoban of the Association of Catholic Priests said he did not think anyone could criticise as “factually incorrect” what Mr Kenny said. He reflected people’s “unease, disgust and anger” after Cloyne, Fr Hoban added.

“He articulated what members of the association and myself have been saying for years – that Rome really does not connect with what is happening in Ireland. The presumption is that once it is handed down, that is accepted right across the board, whether it is the appointment of bishops, the Eucharistic Congress or the new Roman missal. The laity, clergy and, I suspect, some bishops are happy that Enda Kenny has drawn a line in the sand that we are not going to be treated in this way.”

On RTÉ radio yesterday David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, said he was “not particularly” impressed with the Taoiseach’s address and that considerable credit due the current pope for his handling of the abuse issue was “not given at all”.

He accused the Taoiseach of taking “an extreme scattergun approach” with “no account taken of the actual facts”.

The Taoiseach referred to obstruction by the Vatican in Cloyne three years ago “when there was no obstruction three years ago, that is the fact of it”.

The Pope assumed control in 2001 of dealing with the abuse issue, since when hundreds of men had been removed from the priesthood, he said.

He also criticised the Murphy commission for not pursuing the Vatican through diplomatic channels to secure the documents it was seeking. The commission hadn’t done this “and I don’t know why”, he said.

(In December 2009, following publication of the Murphy report, it was explained that as the Murphy commission was independent and as it was also investigating the State’s handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations, through the Garda and the HSE, it did not feel free to use State channels when dealing with the Vatican.)

Mr Quinn also said he agreed with calls for wholesale resignations by Irish Catholic bishops “to break the link with the past”.

On RTÉ’s Morning Irelandprogramme yesterday Senator Ronan Mullen said he didn’t subscribe to “almost the venom there is in parts of the [Taoiseach’s] speech” where “an entire class of people is being written off”.

As a politician himself he was “very, very conscious that some politicians are given to grandstanding”.

He agreed the Taoiseach’s address was “a turning point” and wondered where were “the church spokespersons to explain truthfully what went wrong”.

Bishops McAreavey and Clifford were the only two bishops to respond to e-mails sent yesterday by The Irish Timesto the diocesan offices of 21 of Ireland’s 26 dioceses. Many bishops are on leave and so not available for comment on the Taoiseach’s address.

E-mails were not sent to Kildare Leighlin, Cloyne or Limerick as they currently do not have a bishop. It was not possible to contact Ardagh Clonmacnoise and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had already commented on the speech.