PATSY McGARRY and PADDY AGNEW in Rome
LETTERS SENT to the Vatican and the papal nuncio in Ireland seeking information on clerical sex abuse cases were ignored, the Dublin diocesan report disclosed yesterday.
In September 2006, the commission wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seeking information on reports of clerical child sex abuse sent to it by the Dublin archdiocese over a 30-year period. It also sought information on the document Crimen Solicitationis, which deals with clerical sex abuse.
The congregation did not reply.
Instead, it contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the commission had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels. As a body independent of government, the commission said it did not consider it appropriate to use diplomatic channels.
In February 2007, the commission wrote to the papal nuncio in Dublin asking that he forward all documents relevant to it and which had not been or were not produced by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. It also requested that he confirm if he had no such documents.
The papal nuncio did not reply.
Earlier this year the commission again wrote to the papal nuncio enclosing extracts from its draft report which referred to him and his office, as it was required to do. Again, there was no reply.
At his press conference Dr Martin said he regretted these letters were not answered. “I believe letters should be answered,” he said. “There were other channels the commission could have used, but it didn’t use them. I’m not too sure why that was.”
There were “various ways in which communications between states take place. I regret that this happened in this way”, he said.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said yesterday that any outside requests made to the governance of the Holy See, as in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would pass through diplomatic channels – in this case the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. “If you are looking for official documents from the Vatican, then you have to go through the normal diplomatic channels,” he insisted.
Vatican observers told The Irish Times that the same “diplomatic” reasoning would apply to lack of a reply from the nuncio in Dublin who, as the Vatican’s ambassador in Ireland, cannot respond directly to a request from an albeit independent Irish body.
On the Dublin report, Fr Lombardi said “that is for the local bishop. In the case of Dublin, we have an excellent archbishop and he knows what has to be said”.
It also emerged in the report that the 1996 framework document on child protection, prepared by the Irish bishops, was not accepted by the Vatican. The congregation felt it was “contrary to canonical discipline. In particular ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature”.