Vatican more upset by Catholic Prime Minister's criticisms than clergy sex crimes against children
by Perry Bulwer
Almost two weeks after the Irish government ordered report on cover-ups in the County Cork diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2009, the Vatican has finally responded by recalling its envoy to Ireland. The Vatican statement said the envoy was recalled not just to consult on the report, but "in particular due to the reactions to it." An anonymous Vatican official reiterated that the Vatican was "slightly surprised and disappointed at some of the excessive reactions" to the report.
Every investigative report on Catholic clergy crimes and the cover-ups of those crimes has elicited condemning reactions from a wide range of interested parties, many of which could be considered by the Vatican to be "excessive reactions", such as the calls for criminal charges against the Pope and other church leaders. How could Vatican officials be even "slightly surprised" that similar reactions would follow the publication of the Cloyne report? And how could they be disappointed in those reactions when they know that most usually come from very vocal advocates, activists and critics? It seems to me that the Vatican's surprise and disappointment is mostly directed at the Irish Prime Minister's speech on the Cloyne report.
The Irish PM, Enda Kenny, is not only the longest-serving parliamentarian in a country that until 1973 gave the church a "special position" in its constitution, but he is a devout Catholic. His harsh, but accurate, criticisms of the Vatican's role in covering up clergy sex crimes against children surely must be the source of the Vatican's surprise and disappointment. More than surprise and disappointment, the Vatican hierarchy seems to be running scared, retreating into its enclave to consider a politically correct response to Kenny's charges, rather than simply doing the right thing.
I think it was Prime Minister Kenny who was genuinely surprised at the reactions he has received from thousands of people around the world, including from many priests. "The numbers of members of the clergy who have been in touch in the last few days, to say it is about time somebody spoke out about these matters in a situation like you are, has astounded me." That's what really scares the Vatican. More and more priests are gaining the moral courage to publicly criticize the Vatican or publicly protest against certain doctrines, and Kenny's speech will hopefully encourage many more to do so.
Blogger Michael Nugent has compiled 35 examples in the Cloyne Report of diocese officials covering up clergy child sex crimes. They are the sorts of things Prime Minister Kenny refers to in his speech. You can read Kenny's full speech here. I'll just provide a few excerpts from that speech after an excerpt from Nugent's blog. Remember, the Vatican has so far expressed surprise and disappointment in Kenny's reactions, but has said nothing about the sex crimes and cover-ups by priests and bishops.
Bishop Magee lied and deliberately misled, says Cloyne Report by Michael Nugent (excerpt):
Putting aside the content of the sexual abuse allegations, which are of course shockingly serious, the Cloyne Report reveals that various permutations of the Cloyne Diocese, Bishop John Magee and Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan “positively lied” [21.79], “positively misled” [21.79], “deliberately misled” [21.91], deliberately created two different accounts of the same meeting, a true one for the Vatican and a false one for the local diocesan files [1.48], gave false assurances to the Government Minister for Children and the Health Service Executive [1.77], “tried to bury the matter” of the requirement to report “evidence of a vicious sexual assault” [16.19], advised that statements to the gardai should be “minimal” [9.84-85], failed to give its own advisory committees full information [1.36], “put out an erroneous view” about a report [1.40], produced crucial documents that were wrongly dated [12.29], held three different versions of one meeting in diocesan files [21.27], and misled people in at least 35 ways which I detail below. [click on the link above to read the entire list of examples]
Excerpts from Prime Minister Kenny's speech:
... 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.
And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism...the narcissism...that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.
The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict's "ear of the heart"......the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.
This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.
I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who - like me - have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the State's authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.
Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland's brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports.
This is the 'Republic' of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws...of rights and responsibilities...of proper civic order...where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version...of a particular kind of 'morality'...will no longer be tolerated or ignored.
Where the law - their law - as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.
This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this.
I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.
Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said, "Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church."
As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.
Not purely, or simply or otherwise.