Vatican decision to recall envoy not seen as hostile


THE DECISION by the Vatican to recall its envoy to Ireland for consultations in the wake of the Cloyne report is not being viewed as a hostile move by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a statement yesterday, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the decision to recall the papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was “a matter for the Holy See”.

“The Government is awaiting the response of the Holy See to the recent report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, and it is to be expected that the Vatican would wish to consult in depth with the nuncio on its response,” said Mr Gilmore.

Although a “recall” is often diplomatic speak for showing displeasure with some act of the host state and indicates a cooling in relations, sources said the move was not being interpreted in that way.

“This doesn’t appear to be the kind of recall that indicates displeasure,” said a source. “There isn’t a sense of hatches coming down or communication being blocked.”

Diplomatic sources noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs was notified in advance through communication from the apostolic nunciature in Dublin that Archbishop Leanza was being returned to Rome for consultations.

The nunciature informed the department that the chargé d’affaires would act as head of mission in Archbishop Leanza’s absence.

“This was not something that was sprung on us, and there is no suggestion that he will not return,” a source said.

The move is being interpreted more as a measure of how seriously the Holy See is taking the fallout from the Cloyne report, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s trenchant criticism last week of its role in covering up cases of clerical child sex abuse.

“It would be seen as a positive development in that it indicates that people there are taking this seriously and want to hear a first-hand account of the level of anger in Ireland from the nuncio,” the source added.

Remarks by deputy Vatican spokesman Don Ciro Benedettini yesterday were interpreted in that vein.

Fr Benedettini, noting that the recall of a nuncio is a step rarely taken by the Holy See, said it indicated “the seriousness of the situation, as well as the willingness of the Holy See to confront it with objectivity and determination, notwithstanding a certain note of surprise and disappointment at some excessive reactions”.