Vatican says charges it meddled in Irish abuse cases are ‘unfounded’

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny / Credit: European People's Party
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny / Credit: European People's Party


The Vatican has issued a detailed response to a report charging that Irish Church officials in the Cloyne Diocese mishandled allegations of abuse by priests.

But it denied accusations that it deliberately disrupted the Irish government’s efforts to bring priests to justice in Ireland.

“The Holy See does not accept that it was somehow indifferent to the plight of those who suffered abuse in Ireland,” the Vatican said in a 25-page formal response delivered to the Irish government. 

In the wake of the July 13 “Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny attacked the Vatican in a highly charged speech in the Irish parliament.

Kenny said the report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic … and … excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism … the narcissism that dominates the culture of the Vatican.”

The parliament on July 27 passed a motion accusing the Vatican of “the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish State and the Irish Bishop.”

Ireland’s government then requested an official response from the Vatican. 

The Vatican response called the charges “unfounded.” 

“The Cloyne Report itself contains no statement that would lend support to Mr. Kenny’s accusations,” the Vatican said.

“In fact, accusations of interference … are belied by the many reports cited” in the Cloyne Report, the Vatican said. These reports “contain no evidence to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish state or, for that matter was involved in the day-to-day management of Irish dioceses or religious congregations with respect to sexual abuse issues.”

The Vatican suggested that the Cloyne report – and the Irish government’s response – reflect misunderstanding of how the Church’s canon law works and the extent of the Vatican’s day-to-day authority over local bishops in the Church.

“The Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or interfered in the Inquiry into child sexual abuse cases in the Diocese of Cloyne. Furthermore, at no stage did it seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties. …The Holy See expected the diocesan authorities to act in conformity with Irish civil law. It should also be noted that the (Cloyne Report) acknowledges ‘the full co-operation it received from all parties involved in the investigation and their legal advisers.’” 

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