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The Vatican fights back

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William Crawley | 09:46 UK time, Sunday, 4 September 2011

Toaiseach Enda Kenny's unprecedented assault on the Vatican has clearly infuriated the Pope's advisers. Here's the full text of the Vatican's response to the Irish government's analysis of the Cloyne Report. The Holy See denies that it, in any way, frustratrated Irish efforts to protect children and pursue clerical abusers.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think abuse survivor, Colm O'Gorman, made a good point when he said that the Vatican issued instructions some time ago that all allegations against priests of child abuse should be passed on to the Vatican for consideration. Now the Vatican is denying its involvement and passing all responsibility for failures on to the Church in Ireland. The evidence supporting Enda Kenny's view is compelling.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sadly it is inevitable that, for some, anything the Vatican says won’t be enough and Colm O'Gorman’s comments demonstrate this.

    The detailed response from the Vatican is a thoughtful and considered document. What it doesn’t do, is allow the Church to become a scapegoat for the sins and failings of Irish society as a whole. It has every right to defend and challenge itself against unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations and this is precisely what the response does. Of course there will be those who disagree with this as it does not fit comfortably with their attempts to use the sexual abuse scandal to further their own agenda.

    Let’s be clear, the Cloyne Report did not discover some secret nefarious plot to cover up abuse. In fact the failings in Cloyne had already been highlighted by the Church’s own procedures which saw Bishop Magee’s powers rescinded and ultimately lead to his resignation.

    In July of this year Edna Kenny castigated the Holy See, alleging that “for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

    However this claim is not found in the Cloyne Report itself. It is all of kenny’s making and it is right that he is called explain his actions and words. Of course he will struggle as there is simply no evidence to suggest the Holy See did anything to impede the report.

    When his office was asked to provide evidence for the Claims by Kenny, the best it could come up with was that the Taoiseach did not have any specific incident in mind.

    What kind of head of state makes accusations without the evidence to support them? A bad one certainly, but possible one that sought to use the abuse scandal in a way that would distract attention away from internal problems concerning his reneging on pre-election promises to keep a hospital in Roscommon?

    Shame on anyone who uses the abuse of children for political and ideological means that are centered primarily on anything other than the safety of children. Shame on Enda Kenny and any other bandwagon jumping politician who does not have the moral backbone and integrity to call on Kenny to retract his comments! The Holy See deserves an apology from Kenny.

  • Comment number 3.

    Whilst most neutral observers will see this response to be typical of the lies, obfuscation, distortions and blame passing that the vatican is now rightly famous for, they are no doubt relying on the fact that there are (amazingly) still substantial numbers of Catholics (and even a few from other Christian denominations) who seem singularly unable and unwilling to view them as anything other absolute paragons of virtue. These perpetual apologists for the Vatican will hardly even read the (lack of) content in the statement, as the mere fact that a statement has been made will be enough to justify to themselves that they are correct to keep up their support of Rome.

  • Comment number 4.

    The response from the Holy See contains the following statement:

    Since the Irish Bishops did not choose to seek recognitio for the Framework Document, the Holy See cannot be criticised for failing to grant what was never requested in the first place. (p.9)


    Now this is simply a technicality, that appears to obscure the truth.

    While it is true that this formal process was not requested, the Irish Bishops' Conference requested the advice of the Congregation for the Clergy (the Curia, i.e. the Holy See) concerning this Framework Document:

    While these guidelines were being developed, the Conference engaged in a process of consultation with the Congregation for the Clergy regarding the content of the document so as to ensure its effective application. In the light of these consultations, various amendments were made to the text. It was the Conference's right to consult, and given the Holy See's responsibility for the laws of the Church which apply universally, it was certainly appropriate for the Congregation to offer its advice and considered opinion on the content of the document. (p. 6 - emphasis added)


    Therefore the Holy See was clearly part of this process, and it is disingenuous for that institution to wash its hands of any involvement.

    to be continued...
  • Comment number 5.

    ...continued from post #4 ...

    The "definitive draft" document was then faxed to the Congregation for the Clergy on 23rd December 1995, followed by a letter on the 4th January 1996 saying that the Congregation only had three days to make any further changes. The Congregation was therefore unable to give its opinion about the revised document, even though its opinion had been sought.

    How ridiculous is this! The Conference seeks the opinion of the Holy See, but deliberately gives it no time to respond, which is highly convenient. The Holy See can then say, "we didn't have enough time to give our final opinion", whereas the Conference can say "we consulted with Rome" (and clearly this is what was expected of them). Talk about everyone covering their own backs!

    Furthermore, because of this bizarre process, the document can only have a provisional status as "advice", and it was not an official document of the Irish Bishops' Conference.

    On 10th October 1996, the secretary of the Irish Bishops' Conference wrote to Archbishop Storero, the then Apostolic Nuncio, saying: "The document was not promulgated by decree of the Episcopal Conference nor was it approved by the Conference. It was accepted by the Conference and offered to each individual Bishop and religious Superior as guidelines that could - and indeed should - be followed in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse against priests and religious." (emphasis added).

    Talk about a hair-splitting distinction. What is the difference - in practice, in this context - between an 'unofficial' document, whose guidelines should be followed by all bishops and religious superiors, and an officially promulgated document?

    to be continued...

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    ... continued from post #5 ...

    And then on 21st January 1997 (over a year after they received the document - talk about urgency!!), the Congregation for the Clergy wrote to Archbishop Storero to point out various difficulties with the Framework Document. This letter included the unfortunate description "study document", which is central to the Cloyne Report criticism of the Vatican.

    What a complete shambles!

    They say that each Diocese is independently responsible for issues relating to sexual abuse, the Holy See disclaims any responsibility because it did not receive a formal request for "recognitio", and yet it involves itself in the intricacies of the process that the Bishops' Conference is undertaking to address this serious moral issue.

    As an outsider, and having decided to plough through this document, I have to say that this all smacks of an institution cleverly doing all it can to "cover its own back". It appeals to abstruse technicalities of Canon Law, and refuses to provide official recognition of an important document - which is supposed to be complied with - so that it can say, when criticised - "we never said that", "we never did that", "there was no official position taken" etc etc.

    I am certainly not convinced by this response at all (and I have absolutely no axe to grind, vested interest or hidden agenda in criticising the Catholic Church.)

  • Comment number 9.

    Pax_Vobis,

    Irish society as a whole was not being investigated - it was the actions of the catholic church and it was found wanting.

    When is the catholic church going to sit down and accept that they have cases to answer and answer those without trying to scapegoat everyone else?.

    Is the Irish government going to have to investigate every diocese itself or is the catholic church going to own up to it's failings and sins and set up and pay for the inquiries itself and then pay for the compensation?

    Until the church stops appearing to be being dragged screaming and kicking to the truth then I am afraid flibbly's assessment will be the one in most peoples mind and the apologists like Pax_Vobis will simply be part of the problem and the cover up (that is the true shame). The holy see deserves nothing but investigation and contempt.

  • Comment number 10.

    I just saw Pax_Vobis at the top of post # 2 and guessed the rest.... correctly.

  • Comment number 11.

    Fellow posters and Will - this is my last post. I have had it with BBC moderators who go out of their way to prevent reasonable comments in respect of politicians like Kenny and Gilmore while continually allowing defamation of the Holy Father. So that's it. I'm done.

  • Comment number 12.

    MCC, #11;

    mccamleyc! Aaaargh! No - don't go! I'll be the only Spurs fan left!

  • Comment number 13.

    The BBC's online 'Education' has an article, "Child abuse convictions rise", dealing with figures released under the Freedom of Information Act which show a 60% increase in the number of convictions for child sex offences in the UK for 2010 compared to 2005. An NSPCC spokeswoman says however that these represent only "the tip of the iceberg", and further that as many as 1 in 20 under 18s in this country may have been the victims of some kind of sexual assault. These figures should provoke nothing less than utter disgust at the way we have betrayed our children, sacrificing the hallowed institution of marriage at the altar of personal gratification and convenience. To pretend that these figures merely reflect better reporting and more thorough investigation is sheer manipulation and naked 'spin'.

  • Comment number 14.

    Theophane (@ 13) -

    Any reason why you posted that comment on this particular thread?

    And do you have any comments to make about the subject of this thread? Given your views, your silence is rather mystifying, to say the least.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'll just make a few altar-ations to your post, Theo.

    "..utter disgust at the way we have betrayed our children, sacrificing the hallowed institution of childhood at the altar of clericalism."

    The rest was okay-ish.

  • Comment number 16.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0905/1224303499539.html

    I'd say that considered opinion tends to differ from pax, MCC and Theo.

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    LSV;

    "Any reason why you posted that comment on this particular thread?"

    The reason, is that a minority of traitors among the ranks of Catholic priests and religious have defiled the name of our "Church of Jesus Christ, a place where [the sexual abuse of children] should never happen" (quoting from the Vatican's response). No politician, however, should expect to be able to embellish a speech with half-baked allegations and clumsily spliced quotations, exploiting popular revulsion at these crimes, without comment. Pax_Vobis at no.2 has said much of what needed to be said, but there is also the powerful testimony of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin;

    "One of the key points of the Taoiseach’s intervention was the assertion that “the Holy See attempted to frustrate an enquiry in a sovereign democratic republic as little as three years ago not three decades ago”. There is no evidence presented in the Murphy Report to substantiate this, the Holy See could find no evidence and the Department of An Taoiseach’s office said that the Taoiseach was not referring to any specific event. This merits explanation.
    Similarly the Holy See rightly rejects the use of a text of Cardinal Ratzinger which was made in a totally different context and had no relevance to the question of public policy."

  • Comment number 19.

    He also does not share your view, LSV, that the Vatican's response

    '....smacks of an institution cleverly doing all it can to "cover its own back"';

    "Much emphasis is placed on an intervention by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in 1997. I would say two things on that 1997 document:

    Effectively, if you look at it, the intervention did not in fact impede the Irish Bishops in unanimously approving the Framework Document, in applying it and in consistently developing that framework into the current positions of the Irish Church. The current Standards and Guidance documents have the full support of Pope Benedict XVI as was stated in his Letter to Irish Catholics and are described in the Cloyne Report as “high standards which, if fully implemented, would afford proper protection to children”.
    It was said that the intervention of Cardinal Castrillon gave some people the opportunity to brush aside the Framework Document. But the fact is that these same people who were prepared to brush aside the Framework Document, continued to reject the clear norms approved by Pope Benedict when they were published. They were people who regarded only their own views and would take no note of study documents, of Framework Documents or even of approved papal norms. These people may be few but the damage they caused was huge.
    This brings us back to a central point which is implicit in the Cloyne Reports phrase “if fully implemented”: even the best norms in the world must be accompanied by an on-going process of independent monitoring and reviewing of day-to-day practice. Within the Catholic Church this is being undertaken by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children. Its reviews are underway and will be published. The primary responsibility for monitoring child safeguarding measures in any dimension of Irish society belongs – I repeat – with the State."

  • Comment number 20.

    So coming back to the BBC article (Child sex abuse convictions rise, 02 September). I believe the article's casual acceptance of the claim that

    "The rise has been attributed to better detection and raised awareness"

    ...absolutely reeks of complacency. Imagine if the figures FELL by 60% - would people be anxious to find out why detection rates and awareness levels were less?! A failure to look honestly at this vicious social evil, in which children are cruelly made to suffer the effects of society's rejection of traditional family values (- and how many suffer in silence?), i believe, is not less than a callous betrayal in itself - and there is a CYCLE of sexual exploitation which MUST be broken.

  • Comment number 21.

    Theophane (@ 18) -

    One of the key points of the Taoiseach’s intervention was the assertion that “the Holy See attempted to frustrate an enquiry in a sovereign democratic republic as little as three years ago not three decades ago”. There is no evidence presented in the Murphy Report to substantiate this, the Holy See could find no evidence and the Department of An Taoiseach’s office said that the Taoiseach was not referring to any specific event. This merits explanation.


    The Cloyne report states:

    Despite Bishop Magee’s stated position on the implementation of the Framework Document, the reality is that the guidelines set out in that document were not fully or consistently implemented in the Diocese of Cloyne in the period 1996 to 2009. The primary responsibility for the failure to implement the agreed procedures lies with Bishop Magee. It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the Framework Document was adopted.

    So the guidelines that were agreed in 1996 were not properly implemented until 2008/9, which is 2-3 years ago. And the understanding is that the Holy See's intervention had contributed to the failure of the diocese to implement the guidelines within the Framework Document as a result of their (the Holy See's) lack of wholehearted support for the document, and downgrading its importance to a mere "study document".

    I am assuming that this is what Enda Kenny was referring to when he said: "the Holy See attempted to frustrate an enquiry in a sovereign democratic republic as little as three years ago not three decades ago” and that he was not referring to any specific event, meaning, of course, that he was referring to a trend - or ongoing state of affairs - which only began to be rectified three years ago.

    Even if Kenny somehow got his wording wrong, it does not alter the gravity of the situation, and the case that the Catholic Church has to answer.

    It seems to me that the Vatican is more concerned about the "hurt" it has suffered as a result of harmless Mr Kenny's one ambiguous and possibly confusing comment, than with the years of hell that their organisation has created in the lives of many vulnerable and innocent children.
  • Comment number 22.

    Theophane,

    "and there is a CYCLE of sexual exploitation which MUST be broken."

    I agree and I think as far as institutionalised abuse within the RCC in Ireland Enda is taking the right approach by ensuring they don't try and deflect attention away from themselves and that they answer for the abuse, cover up and obfuscation for which they are guilty.

    BTW is this the Diarmuid Martin who is reported in

    https://www.independent.ie/national-news/clerical-abusers-shielded-by-lsquocabalrsquo-of-protection-in-church-2866203.html

    as saying

    "The Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has admitted that "a cabal" protecting clerical sex abusers may be operating at the highest levels in the Catholic Church.

    Dr Martin said: "There may be a cabal in Cloyne. They may have friends in other parts of the Irish Church. They may have friends in Irish society. There may be friends in the Vatican."

    more powerful testimony.

  • Comment number 23.

    A part of my post which was moderated made a very important point about the role of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in all of this.

    He sent a letter to a French Bishop in 2001 stating that this Bishop would be known as 'a hero' among Bishops for protecting one of his priestly sons. (The Bishop had attempted to shield a notorious abuser priest from the French police.)

    When this letter was leaked he claimed that he had shown the letter to JPII and that JPII had urged him to send it.

    It was a shocking admission.

    So what were the people preparing the Cloyne report and the Irish Government supposed to think when this same man intervened with the Irish Bishops and questioned mandatory reporting to the police in Ireland? Could you possibly explain that, Theo? Why should anyone have trusted a word this man said?

    There was also the small matter of high ranking Vatican officials protecting Marcel Maciel for years and the fact that Cardinal Law has effectively been rewarded for not cooperating with the civil authorities in the US.

    Enda Kenny didnt go far enough. He could have said much more and really put a spotlight on some attrocious behaviour by the Vatican.

    As it stands, Mr Kenny's speech was as important a speech as was ever heard in The Dail. The fact that it enraged the likes of Pax Vobis, MCC and Theophane would indicate that he did indeed hit a nerve.

    But lets go to the crux of the matter here. This is not really about the abuse of children, cover up or anything else. This is about reactionary right wing, ultra conservative Catholics attempting to subvert Vatican II Council and returning us to a medieval, Latin, clericalist Church.

    The fact that the blame for the child abuse scandal is more and more being laid at the door of this section of the Church is worrying for them. The more discredited these people become, the less chance there is of their pious cult being realised.

    They care not a jot about the protection of children. Theirs is a very different agenda altogether. Its the protection of Benedict they are about.

  • Comment number 24.

    "The Vatican will never be able to "fix" the problem of clergy sexual abuse because the abuse is not the essential problem that needs fixing. It is the entire clerical culture that needs to be revamped, from the inside out." - Fr Thomas P Doyle.

  • Comment number 25.

    Very interesting court case which will hopefully prove just how high the culture of cover up goes.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-catholic-churchs-secret-sex-crime-files-20110906

  • Comment number 26.

    25 romejellybean

    That is quite a disturbing story which contains some gut-turning allegations. The little boy "Billy" was made drunk on sacramental wine and abused. Over time he was passed from paedophile to paedophile. If you hear the outcome of the trial please post the details.

  • Comment number 27.

    I will be keeping a close eye on the trial, Newlach. Its a groundbreaking trial in that the senior priest accused of cover up is in the dock with the alleged abusers. If found guilty, expect to see Bishops in the dock next, then Cardinals, then...

  • Comment number 28.

    Without naming any names, is it just me, or is it possible to almost hear the "heavy breathing" in the contributions from some quarters?

  • Comment number 29.

    It really is LAUGHABLE to see these apologists venting their spleens at Enda Kenny and the Cloyne Report, while admonishing the Vatican. You will never find anything from the Vatican which specifically orders Bishops to keep quiet about abuse by priests. They are not that dumb.

    So forget Vatican documents - look at the behaviour instead.

    Maciel was complained about for over four decades. Ratzinger invoked the statute of limitations and declared that prosecuting someone who had done so much good for the Church was a "delicate matter." When the eight (known) victims returned three years later with the charge that Maciel had sworn his victims to secrecy in Confession - a charge for which there was no statute of limitations - he imposed a statute of limitations!!

    Fr Bruce Teague reported an abuser priest to the police - he was sacked.

    Fr John Conley reported an abuser priest to the police - he was sacked by Cardinal Levada. Two days after Ratzinger was made Pope he rewarded Levada by appointing him as head of the CDF. Ratzinger knew who he was appointing, someone who could be trusted to keep quiet.

    In my own case when I reported my abusers to the police, the head of the Congregation for the Clergy wrote to my Bishop ordering him to "shut me up!"

    Cardinal Law presently draws a monthly wage of $12 000 and is shielded from prosecution in the Vatican. It is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that he is being rewarded for refusing to cooperate with the police.

    Irish Bishops found to be complicit in cover up have their resignations refused by Ratzinger. Cardinal Brady is allowed to continue in office even although he admitted to being involved in swearing victims and their families to silence.

    Ratzinger sends a letter to a US Bishop refusing to laicize an abuser priest - at the abuser priests own request - stating that there are "wider considerations".

    Convicted paedophile Fr Anthony Cippolla appealed to Rome following his suspension by his own Bishop. His suspension was revoked.

    Convicted paedophile Fr Robert Trupia appealed to Rome after he was suspended by his Bishop. His suspension was revoked.

    The Cardinals, Bishops and priests of the Catholic Church dont need a document or secret letter to spell it out for them in actual words. Its abundantly clear what Vatican policy is - Keep your mouths shut about abuse!

  • Comment number 30.

    Theophane

    You have proved yourself on here to be singularly devoid of the slightest ability to assimilate facts and reach logical conclusions.

    You are in no position to poke fun at anyone.

  • Comment number 31.

    Theo,

    is it just me, or is it possible to almost hear the "heavy breathing" in the contributions from some quarters

    Nope, I think it would be a first to state you can 'almost hear' through this web blog, maybe it's just the wind rustling through tufts of fur in your ears ;)

    Does your interpretation of 'Hero' and 'Traitor' tally with the Vatican's? You mention 'traitors among the ranks' in post 18, to which Rjb replies by drawing our attention to the "very important point about the role of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in all of this."
    He sent a letter to a French Bishop in 2001 stating that this Bishop would be known as 'a hero' among Bishops for protecting one of his priestly sons. (The Bishop had attempted to shield a notorious abuser priest from the French police.)
    ...So what were the people preparing the Cloyne report and the Irish Government supposed to think when this same man intervened with the Irish Bishops and questioned mandatory reporting to the police in Ireland?

    This is the same Vatican culture where, as Rjb points out-
    Fr Bruce Teague reported an abuser priest to the police - he was sacked.

    Fr John Conley reported an abuser priest to the police - he was sacked by Cardinal Levada.

    Two days after Ratzinger was made Pope he rewarded Levada by appointing him as head of the CDF.

    And in Ireland, to highlight a point Dave makes-
    "The Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has admitted that "a cabal" protecting clerical sex abusers may be operating at the highest levels in the Catholic Church."
  • Comment number 32.

    The letter sent by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to a French bishop in 2001 is quite damning. This is a letter sent by someone from the upper echelon of the Roman Catholic Church. If the likes of Hoyos are contributing to the ethics of the Church it is something of great concern to all of us who would like to see a better world.

  • Comment number 33.

    Romejellybeen @25

    another link https://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb064/is_2_24/ai_n29020052/ shows that the Irish Government is not alone in its criticism of the RC Church. In this link a former USA Governor who had been appointed to a RC Church body resigned alleging that the bishops were behaving like the Cosa Nostra.

  • Comment number 34.

    gerry, #33;

    Do you think Enda Kenny should have found room for a bit of RC Church/Mafia comparison in his speech?

  • Comment number 35.

    For what it's worth, I have been involved in a long debate about this issue on another blog (one of the blogs listed above in William's list). This is the link.

    I go by the moniker of "EtymologicalEvangelical" on that blog.

    People here might be interested in following this. The thread includes an interesting and rather heated discussion about whether Irish culture contributed to child sex abuse in the Catholic Church (and generally in the English speaking church worldwide).

  • Comment number 36.

    Hey Lsv, re China I would agree when you say-

    it seems that the Chinese government is simply concerned about the political influence of the Catholic Church rather than any spiritual issue

    The fact China prints more copies of the Bible than anywhere else on earth seems to support that premise
 

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