Vatican response to Pennsylvania abuse


Sir, – The report regarding the Vatican expressing shame and sorrow over more sex abuse cases, this time in the United States, is to put it mildly sickening (Front page, August 17th). I have been reading and hearing about the church’s shame and sorrow for so many decades now it has become the norm.

These coming days the head of that church comes to this Republic to attend a World Meeting of Families. It is so dismal to see so many thousands of people attending this massive get-together and yet the church ignores our feelings.

May I suggest that people take one moment at the various Masses and turn their back on the church to show their disgust and stand up for the innocent. – Yours, etc,


Clondalkin, Dublin 22.

Sir, – The statement from the Vatican on the Pennsylvania grand jury report states, “the abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible”. Surely that is just stating the obvious. What the Vatican needed to state, but didn’t, is that the subsequent cover-up and nonchalant response by the church authorities described in the report is criminal and morally reprehensible. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – You report that the Vatican has expressed its “shame and sorrow” over further sex abuse findings.

As a practical outworking of that shame and sorrow, perhaps the Roman Catholic church in Ireland could pay the (albeit heavily discounted) amount of money it owes to the Irish State in compensation for previous scandals.

Or, it could pay the full tab, in a moral gesture that might suggest its shame and sorrow was genuine. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – The Vatican’s reaction to the Pennsylvanian grand jury’s report reminds me of the American administration’s hackneyed response after mass shootings: “Thoughts and prayers”. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare. 

Sir, – While I welcome the pope to Ireland, he is also the head of the Vatican, the bizarre “state” created in a 1929 pact with Mussolini, an absolute monarchy which has used diplomatic immunity and the secretive, parallel legal system of Canon Law to avoid justice and paying compensation to victims of sexual abuse, while setting the church’s governance rules and being home to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF, formerly the Inquisition), the body charged with disciplining errant priests.

A grand jury report in Pennsylvania has revealed that church leaders covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over 70 years, persuading victims not to report abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it.

It identified over 1,000 victims, said there are probably thousands more and that church officials who protected abusers remained in office. Some were even promoted. Remember Cardinal Bernard Law, the late Archbishop of Boston, who transferred sexually abusive clergy among parishes for years without alerting parents or police, who was portrayed in the film Spotlight? He was appointed archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the main basilicas in Rome.

The report revealed that church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth”.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that “they protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims” and that the cover-up by church officials “stretched in some cases all the way up to the Vatican.”

Fr Hans Kung wrote in an open letter to Catholic Bishops in 2010: “There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger”.

The Murphy Report revealed that the church’s priorities were the maintenance of secrecy, avoidance of scandal, protection of its reputation and preservation of its assets. We know that the Vatican refused to co-operate with State inquiries into the handling of clerical child sex abuse and sought to bury documents and get an indemnity from the State from compensation costs.

I invite anyone who doubts the Vatican had any role in the cover-up of sexual abuse to read The Case of the Pope by the eminent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.

I respectfully ask the pope to come clean about the Vatican’s role in the cover-up of child sexual abuse. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.