The Irish Government has told the Vatican that it stands by every single detail of Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s controversial comments on the Holy See’s handling of the Cloyne Diocese child sex abuse scandal.
The Dublin government has formally responded to a statement from the Vatican which challenged elements of Kenny’s attack on the Catholic Church after the publication of the Cloyne Report.
A formal statement defending the PM’s comments has been backed up by a radio interview on Friday morning where Justice Minister Alan Shatter repeated Kenny’s claims that the Vatican attempted to frustrate Irish state enquiries into clerical sex abuse as recently as three years ago.
Like Kenny in his speech this summer, Shatter insisted on Friday morning that Holy See had ‘failed to provide information to the Murphy Commission and used a diplomatic ploy to support its position’.
Irish Prime Minister slams Vatican over Irish sex abuse stance
Dr Martin’s comments and those contained in the Vatican statement were again refuted by Justice Minister Shatter when he spoke to Irish state radio station RTE on Friday morning.
“The Vatican failed to cooperate with the Murphy Commission,” claimed Minister Shatter.
“It failed to provide it with information readily available to it, failed to furnish information it had available to it with regard to the abuse of children in both the Dublin diocese and subsequently the Cloyne diocese.
“A request for information was made directly by the Murphy commission used the diplomatic ploy of refusing to deal with the matter when the request came through Department of Foreign Affairs which could not have been done because the Murphy Commission was independent of Government when investigating Cloyne.”
Shatter also told the radio station that, instead of supplying information, the Papal Nuncio ‘simply informed the Murphy Commission that it does not determine the handling of cases of child abuse in Ireland and is unable to assist in the matter’.
The Minister added: “That request was made to the Papal Nuncio as the ambassador to the Vatican based in Dublin. It was open to him to obtain from the Vatican any papers and information relevant to that inquiry.
“Information relating to priests who had allegedly abused children. This was an issue specifically raised in the Cloyne report.”
In an earlier statement, the Irish Government PM Kenny’s claims that the Holy See gave some members of the clergy in Ireland a pretext not to co-operate with inquiries into child abuse.
“Having considered carefully the Cloyne report and the response of the Holy See, the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 from the then apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Luciano Storero, to the Irish bishops, regardless of whether or not it was intended to do so, provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full co-operation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors. This is a matter of great concern to the Irish Government,” said the statement.
The official response also stated that the Irish Government ‘acknowledged and welcomed the response of the Holy See to the Cloyne report in which it expressed shame and apologized for the terrible suffering which the victims of child abuse and their families had suffered’.
In response, a spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops said: “In light of the Government’s statement, the Catholic Church restates its commitment to best practice in safeguarding children and to working with State authorities in achieving this. The focus should now be on the future.”