Ireland Stands By Criticism of Vatican in Cloyne Report

Says It Hopes Lessons Have Been Learned

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DUBLIN, Ireland, SEPT. 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The government of Ireland has thanked the Vatican for its response to the Cloyne report, but stands by its criticism of a 1997 letter that Ireland says gave some clergy a pretext for covering-up sexual abuse accusations. 

In a brief statement issued today, the government of Ireland said “it welcomes the statement in the response that the Holy See is sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have endured.”

The 400-page Cloyne report, published in July, found that Bishop John Magee of Coyne, who resigned in 2010, ignored the 1996 child protection guidelines set down by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and failed to report to the police at least nine of 15 sexual abuse allegations in that period.

Furthermore, it found that the “reaction of the Vatican” to the efforts of the Irish bishops to respond to child abuse allegations was “unhelpful to any bishop who wanted to implement the agreed procedures.”

The report cited a 1997 letter sent to the Irish bishops’ conference by then-nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero (1926-2000), who stated that the Congregation for Clergy considered the child protection guidelines outlined in “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response” as a mere “study document,” and that it contained “procedures and dispositions,” namely what is referred to as mandatory reporting, “which appear contrary to canonical discipline.”

The Vatican responded that the letter merely offered advice on the development of a document, and that the Church has a long history of reiterating the importance of reporting sexual abuse cases to civil authorities.

“Having considered carefully the Cloyne Report and the response of the Holy See,” the statement stated, “the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 […] provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full cooperation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors. This is a matter of great concern to the Irish Government.”

“It is the Government of Ireland’s hope that, in spite of outstanding differences, lessons have been learned from appalling past failures,” the text continued. “In this regard, it welcomes the commitment in the concluding remarks of the Holy See’s response to a constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Government.

“In welcoming this commitment the Government expects the fullest cooperation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuing 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.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

The full text of Ireland’s response: www.zenit.org/article-33387?l=english

The full text of the Vatican response: www.zenit.org/article-33352?l=english.

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