A shamed American cleric was wined and dined at the Irish embassy in the Vatican – less than 10 years after he was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston in a clerical sex abuse scandal.
Cardinal Bernard Law attended a number of farewell parties for Irish and British diplomats at the Embassy, recently closed down by the Dublin government.
A row is still ongoing in Ireland over the decision to shut the embassy to the Holy See with Fine Gael back-benchers campaigning to reverse the ruling.
Now the news that Cardinal Law was regularly feted at the embassy has caused outrage amongst support groups for those abused by Catholic Churchclerics in Ireland.
The Irish Independent previously released details of the three largest parties thrown by the Irish ambassador at the 17th century mansion in Rome.
Now its sister paper, the Belfast Telegraph, has outlined details of Cardinal Law’s presence at a number of big bashes thrown at the venue.
He resigned after 18 years as Archbishop of Boston in 2002 when decades of child abuse by the clergy was exposed in his diocese.
The disgraced Cardinal was then put in charge of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, a prestigious position he held until last November.
Now 81, Cardinal Law was heavily criticised in the report into child abuse in the Boston diocese, which found that offending priests were transferred from parish to parish where they were able to abuse again.
Like the Cloyne Reportin Ireland, the Boston document was critical that the hierarchy, led by Cardinal Law, seemed more concerned with the church’s reputation than protecting children.
Records which Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs tried to keep secret now show that Cardinal Law was a frequent guest at the Vatican embassy.
In 2011 alone, he attended farewell functions for the Irish and British ambassadors but was unable to attend a St Patrick’s night celebration.
Cardinal Law was accompanied to one dinner by Monsignor Paul McInerny, his secretary in Boston in the 1990s.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Cardinal Law was invited to the events because he was a senior member of the Roman Curia who, in his professional capacity, was regularly invited to functions organised by members of the diplomatic corps to the Holy See.
“Our ambassadors are experienced diplomats who exercise discretion and judgment when issuing invitations to official functions.”