After abuse report, Vatican recalls nuncio to Ireland for consultation
By Kevin J. Jones
Vice director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini
Vice director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini

.- The Vatican has recalled its apostolic nuncio in Ireland to Rome for consultations after the release of the Cloyne Report on priests’ abuse of minors in the Diocese of Cloyne.  The recall is a sign of the Holy See’s seriousness in addressing the issue, a Vatican spokesman said.

The recall of Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza shows the seriousness of the situation and the desire of the Holy See to deal with it “objectively and with determination,” Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican Press Office, told journalists.

He said the recall shows the “surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions.”

Fr. Benedettini added that the nuncio’s recall also should be seen as evidence of the Holy See’s desire for a “serious and effective cooperation” in responding to the report.

The Cloyne Report is the product of a judicial inquiry into the diocese’s mishandling of alleged incidents of clerical sexual abuse since 1996. It severely criticizes the diocese for not reporting all cases to the authorities, including nine cases from 1996 and 2005 which “very clearly” should have been reported.

The report examined allegations against 19 priests. Two of the allegations involved victims who were minors at the time the complaint was made.

Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, a former personal secretary to Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, resigned in 2010 due to continuing criticism of his handling of abuse allegations.

The report also charged that the Vatican was “entirely unhelpful” to any bishop who wanted to implement procedures for dealing with child sex abuse allegations. It further described the Vatican’s response as “unsupportive especially in relation to the civil authorities.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, in his July 17 homily, expressed anger at the Diocese of Cloyne’s “non-response” to abuse victims and that children had been put at risk long after guidelines were in place.

He also voiced anger that there were in Cloyne, and perhaps elsewhere, “individuals who placed their own views above the safeguarding of children” and also placed themselves outside the protection guidelines to which the diocese and the Irish bishops had committed themselves.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny cited the report in a harshly critical July 20 speech before parliament, saying it exposes “an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago.”

He charged that Church leaders are steeped in a climate of “narcissism” and sought to defend their institutions rather than protect children.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi responded on July 20 to Irish lawmakers’ claims that a 1997 Vatican letter to Irish bishops sabotaged child protection policy by instructing them to handle abuse cases strictly by canon law.

 The letter only warned against measures which would be questionable or invalid according to Church law, which would not be effective sanctions, he said.

Ireland’s foreign minister Eamon Gilmore said that the government is awaiting the response to the Cloyne report, adding “it is to be expected that the Vatican would wish to consult in depth with the nuncio on its response.”

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April 23, 2014

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