Vatican response on Cloyne due within weeks


VATICAN SOURCES have suggested the Holy See’s formal reply to the Government on the Cloyne report could come towards the middle of next month.

The reply may be sent before Pope Benedict XVI travels to Madrid for the World Youth Day celebrations, which run from August 16th to 23rd.

The reply was initially scheduled for delivery next week but in the wake of the Taoiseach’s outspoken criticism of the Vatican in the Dáil and the subsequent recall to Rome of the papal nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, it has been decided more time is needed.

Holy See sources acknowledged that the writing of this reply will be an extremely “delicate” business. A sharp, pithy response would run the risk of the Holy See being criticised for not taking the Irish problem sufficiently seriously. On the other hand, a point-by-point analysis of all the issues raised in the report, which runs to 421 pages, could take years.

The Holy See would prefer to remain silent and issue no further statements.

Senior Vatican figures are aware that, long or short, the response will probably fall foul of an outraged Irish public.

“The Irish Government has asked for a response,” said a senior Holy See figure. “We respect all governments, so the Irish will get a response.”

Preparation of the response has inevitably been affected by holidays.

The Pope is in his summer quarters in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

Secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is on holiday in the Aosta Valley region until August 5th, has been further distracted by the death last week of his brother. Another key figure in the sex abuse debate, American Msgr Peter Wells, the secretariat’s most senior Anglophone, is also on holiday.

Preparation of the response will require the return of the cardinal and monsignor, and the secretariat will also be seeking “contributions” from at least four different Vatican departments: the congregations of the doctrine of the faith; of bishops; of clergy; and the institutes of consecrated life.

Vatican sources are hopeful the response will be finalised by the middle of the month.

It has not yet been decided whether the Vatican will publish it but this seems the most likely course of action.

As for the forthcoming appointment of Archbishop Leanza to the Czech Republic, the Holy See said this was already programmed and should not be interpreted as “fallout” from the Cloyne report.

Most Vatican commentators believe, however, that the transfer was “anticipated” in order to get the nuncio “out of the firing line”, given that he had been accused of being less than helpful to the Murphy commission’s investigation of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The archbishop is in Rome helping to prepare the Vatican response.

Requests for an interview with him were denied, with senior Vatican figures saying such an interview would hardly be opportune “in the present circumstances”.