Vatican to reply 'at opportune moment' to Cloyne questions


VATICAN SPOKESMAN:SENIOR VATICAN spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi last night issued a statement in response to the burgeoning tensions between Ireland and the Holy See, following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s forthright comments in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Expressing the hope his words might help calm the situation, he said: “I can confirm, as I have already said, that the Holy See will respond at the opportune moment to the questions raised by the Irish Government with regard to the Cloyne report.

“In any event, it is to be hoped that the ongoing debate on such dramatic issues can be carried out with the necessary objectivity so as to contribute to the matter which should most concern us all, namely the safety of children and of young people and the renewal of a climate of trust and collaboration to this end, in both the church and society, as wished for by the Pope in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland.”

Speaking last week, Fr Lombardi had indicated an extended, detailed and reasoned response from the Holy See to the request made to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore for a formal response to the report might take some time. No date can yet be fixed for that response.

Comments made by Fr Lombardi to Vatican Radio earlier this week were described as “unfortunate and disingenuous” by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. In particular, Fr Lombardi had claimed there was nothing in the infamous 1997 letter from papal nuncio Luciano Storero to the Irish bishops to encourage a policy of cover-up or to not respect the laws of the land.

With yesterday’s statement, the papal spokesman has clearly tried to smooth troubled waters.

The late hour at which the statement was issued would suggest it had to do the rounds of various offices, including that of Pope Benedict, before being approved.

Earlier in the day, the Vatican Insiderwebsite had carried an interview with Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin in which Dr Martin appears to suggest the Taoiseach’s criticisms of the Vatican may be related “to interactions with the Vatican during the preparation of the Cloyne report”.

The archbishop said he did not know the nature of these “interactions”.

The Taoiseach did not directly criticise Pope Benedict or the anti-paedophilia norms currently applied by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The archbishop repeated comments made on RTÉ this week when he spoke of “cabals” within the Irish hierarchy and the Holy See that were resistant to the application of child protection norms.

Dr Martin dismissed suggestions Rome did not understand the “full gravity” of the Irish sex abuse crisis. “Rome proposes a line of conduct with which I am in total agreement, it’s the only way to go. In that sense, Rome sustains and encourages the line adopted by myself and the Irish hierarchy. Perhaps, though, Rome does not understand the current climate in Ireland and perhaps some of the comments coming from Rome lack a sensibility towards the mood of the Irish people.”