Chicago Cardinal Francis George has denied that he snubbed Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny by not attending a dinner in his honor on March 16th.

The Irish Fellowship Club dinner is one of the most prestigious of the season and Kenny is the main speaker there this year. Cardinal George is attending a high school religious event instead.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that speculation was rife in Chicago Irish circles that George had done so because of Kenny’s outspoken criticism of the Vatican over handling of the child abuse crisis in Ireland.

George has now written to the newspaper denying a deliberate snub however. George referred to “his imagined snub” in the letter and stated the story has “unfortunately developed some vicious consequences” though he does not elaborate what they are.

George stated his decision to attend the other event was made eight months before he was sent an invite to the Irish dinner and “there is no expectation that the Archbishop of Chicago be present.”

George stated: “Relations between Church and State in Ireland are not my business. I speak to many people, however, and would be happy to talk to the Prime Minister, should he be at all interested in talking to me.

“We would have to arrange a time that is good for both of us. Friday evening, March 16, won’t work for me.”