3 Sep 2011

Vatican denies involvement in child abuse cover-up

The Vatican rejects “unfounded” accusations made in the Irish parliament in July that it tried to cover up child sex abuse by priests and interfered in Irish laws.

The Vatican has defended itself against accusations from the Irish parliament that it sought to cover up child sex abuse by its priests and undermine child protection laws.

The Holy See said it was “sorry and ashamed” for the abuse of children by priests, but it rejected as “unfounded” accusations of Vatican interference in Irish laws.

“In this regard, the Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne,” said a Vatican statement.

In July a motion was passed by the Irish parliament, the Dail, accusing the Holy See of “undermining child protection frameworks” after a damning report into sexual abuse by priests in the diocese of Cloyne, in county Cork.

The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne. Vatican statement

That report painted a picture of systematic attempts by senior clergy to cover up abuse allegations as recently as 2009. It also accused the Vatican of abetting the cover-up.

Today’s statement by the Vatican rejects accusations of interfering in Irish law, levelled by Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

It takes particular issue with his quotation of a phrase by Pope Benedict when he was a cardinal, in which he asserted that “standards of conduct appropriate to civil society… cannot be purely and simply applied to the church”.

The Vatican said the phrase had been taken out of context and referred to a theologian’s service to the church community.

Read more: Pope Benedict XVI: suffer the little children?

‘Study guidelines’

Published on 13 July, the “Cloyne report” said Irish clerics had concealed from authorities the sexual abuse of children. It claimed the Vatican had treated mandatory child protection guidelines as “study guidelines” in a letter to Irish bishops.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore ordered Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Pope’s representative in Dublin, to return to Rome with a message to the Vatican that the Irish Government believed its conduct to have been disgraceful and unacceptable.

Mr Kenny said the report had exposed a dysfunctional, elite hierarchy, determined to frustrate investigations, and he said that religion did not rule Ireland.