Response 'legalistic and technical'

 

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he recognised the Vatican had apologised for the abuse scandals and expressed shame but said it still needed to understand the Irish peoples' anger.

Taking issue with the report's tone, Mr Gilmore said the document failed to reflect the unique position that the Church had enjoyed in Irish society for decades.

"You've seen the terms in which it's expressed where they say that they are sorry and ashamed for what has happened," he told The Irish Times.

"I think that that has to be acknowledged that that is a response to the anger that is felt by the Irish people."

He also acknowledged "various other indications" of the seriousness with which the Vatican the "appalling" evidence of abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne and elsewhere.

Asked if the report would improve Ireland's relations with the Vatican, he said the level of anger felt at the Church was such that more time was required to repair the damage caused by its response.

"It moves things on a stage but it will take time," he said.

Mr Gilmore, speaking at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Poland, said the public was more concerned about the welfare of children than the status of Church documents.

He remained of the view that a 1997 letter from the then Papal Nuncio provided a pretext for some in the Church to avoid full co-operation with the civil authorities in Ireland.

Issues about the precise status of documents should not be allowed to obscure the obligation of people in a position of responsibility to deal promptly with such abuse and report it, he said.

"I felt that there were aspects of the statement that were highly technical, highly legalistic, very much dancing on the head of a pin about the status of documents when the issue that concerns the Government and I think the public in Ireland is the welfare of children," he said.

"I think that there is a need for the Vatican to understand that the feelings of Irish people - and they were reflected and very clearly stated by the Taoiseach - are first of all based on the abhorrence of child sex abuse, just what a heinous crime it is."