Cabinet stands over criticism of Vatican

THE GOVERNMENT is standing by its criticism of the Vatican and the trenchant comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil last …

THE GOVERNMENT is standing by its criticism of the Vatican and the trenchant comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil last July.

In a statement last night the Government repeated the claim 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.”

In the statement agreed by the Cabinet at its meeting yesterday the Government said it acknowledged and welcomed the response of the Holy See to the Cloyne report in which it expressed shame and apologised for the terrible suffering which the victims of child abuse and their families had suffered.

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It also noted the comments in the Holy See’s response to the political debate in Ireland after the publication of the Cloyne report and in particular the statements made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders. “The Government of Ireland must point out that the comments made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders accurately reflect the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Holy See to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse and those who committed such appalling acts.”

The statement added that it was the Government’s hope that lessons had been learned from appalling past failures and in this regard it welcomed the commitment in the concluding remarks of the Holy See’s response to a constructive dialogue and co-operation with the Government.

“In welcoming this commitment the Government expects the fullest co-operation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuring that Ireland is a society fully safe for children and minors and that all of those with responsibility for the welfare and care of children in this country are fully subject to Irish laws and requirements,” it said.

In its statement at the weekend the Vatican rejected the claim that the 1997 letter from Archbishop Storero encouraged non co-operation with State inquiries into child abuse and said this view was based on an “inaccurate” conclusion in the Cloyne report. It also rejected the view that the letter could be construed as undermining Irish law or State institutions.

Last night 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.”