Government to be well represented in Rome

Bilateral relations improving despite Dáil criticism, claims Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “Those comments got a lot of support.” Photograph: Eric Luke

The confirmation by the Taoiseach last night that he will be in Rome for the canonisation is the strongest indication yet of a determination by the Coalition to repair relations between Ireland and the Vatican which reached an all-time low in 2011.

That year, following four statutory reports into the sexual and physical abuse of children, as well as their neglect by Catholic clergy, and the cover-up of it all by senior church figures, Taoiseach Enda Kenny denounced the Vatican in trenchant terms in a speech to the Dáil on July 20th, 2011.

He criticised the Vatican’s handling of the Irish church’s sex abuse crisis, saying: “Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s ‘ear of the heart’ . . . the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”

His speech followed the Cloyne report, on the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in that diocese, which had been published a week earlier. It followed the Murphy and Ryan reports in 2009, and the Ferns report in 2005.


Five days after the Taoiseach’s Dáil speech, on July 25th, 2011, the then papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was recalled to Rome, and in November of that year it was announced by the Government that Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See (Vatican) was being closed down for economic reasons. Since then the role of ambassador has been covered on a caretaker basis by the secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, David Cooney, working out of Iveagh House in Dublin.

Last night the Taoiseach Mr Kenny said he believed recent criticism of the Vatican had actually improved rather than damaged Church-State relations:

“I made my comments at the time”, Mr Kenny explained. “They needed to be made. Those comments got a lot of support.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times