Vatican 'ignored' commission letters


Letters sent by the Commission of Investigation to the Vatican and to the papal nuncio in Ireland seeking information were ignored, the report has disclosed.

The commission wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Pope Benedict had been head until April 2005, in September 2006.

It was asking for information on the document `Crimen Solicitationis’, which dealt with clerical sex abuse, as well as information on reports of clerical child sexual abuse conveyed to it by the Dublin archdiocese over the relevant period.

The Vatican did not reply. Instead it contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the commission had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels.

The commission said that as a body independent of Government, it did not consider it appropriate for it to use diplomatic channels.

In February 2007, the commission wrote to the papal nuncio in Dublin asking that he forward to it all documents in his possession which might be relevant to it and which had not been or were not produced by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. It also requested that he confirm it if he had no such documents. The papal nuncio did not reply.

Earlier this year, the commission again wrote to the papal nuncio enclosing extracts from its draft report which referred to him and his office, as it was required to do. Again, there was no reply.

Vatican senior spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Irish Timestoday it was a matter for “the local church involved”.

Father Lombardi said diplomatic practice requires that any outside requests made to the governance of the Vatican would pass through diplomatic channels, in this case the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

“It’s obvious, if you are looking for official documents from the Vatican then you have to go through the normal diplomatic channels,” he said.

Vatican observers argue that the same “diplomatic” reasoning would apply to the lack of a reply from the nuncio in Dublin. As the Vatican’s Ambassador in Ireland, he cannot respond directly to a request from an independent Irish body.

As for the overall findings of the report, Fr Lombardi was reluctant to add any further comment. “In all cases like this, it is not appropriate for Rome to comment, rather that is for the local bishop. In the case of Dublin, we have an excellent Archbishop and he knows what has to be said.”