MARY MINIHANPATSY McGARRY and
THE GOVERNMENT is to discuss the Vatican’s weekend response to the Cloyne report at its Cabinet meeting this week, although there was no indication yesterday it was backing down on its criticism of the Holy See.
A spokesman said last night it intended taking time to consider the Vatican document and to compile a detailed response.
In a 25-page response to findings of the Cloyne report, the Vatican rejected accusations of interference with the Cloyne inquiry or when it came to the implementation of child protection guidelines in the State.
The Vatican also described as “unfounded” Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s claim in the Dáil on July 20th that it attempted to frustrate an inquiry into abuse “as little as three years ago”.
The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the Taoiseach’s claim still “merits explanation”, and he hoped the Vatican’s response would “not be an occasion just for added polemics”.
Dr Martin also rejected as “a bit unfair” Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s description of the Vatican’s response as “very technical and legalistic”. Speaking in Dublin, yesterday, he said: “The Vatican responded to the questions they were asked and some of the questions were about norms and legislation. It is a bit unfair to say that they gave technical answers – they were technical questions.”
Earlier, Mr Gilmore described the Vatican response as “a stage” towards repairing relations between the State and the Vatican but that the level of anger felt at the church meant that more time would be required. Speaking at an EU meeting in Poland, he said, “it moves things on a stage but more time will be required,” he said.
He noted the Vatican had said it wanted to engage in constructive discussion with the State. “I will certainly do that at a formal level,” he said, “but I also believe that those discussions need to be conducted at a more formal level.”
In a brief comment on the Vatican response, shortly after it was published on Saturday, Mr Kenny said he stood over his July 20th address to the Dáil, in which he forcefully criticised the Vatican. Asked if he regretted what he had said, Mr Kenny responded: “No. I made my statement to the Dáil.” He added: “the Vatican has responded. I want to read the report.”
Defending the Taoiseach’s Dáil speech yesterday, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said his comments reflected what most people in Ireland were feeling. She added that protecting children from abuse was more important than “legal and semantic argument”.
Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton said the Cloyne report was of the view that material coming from the Vatican was “giving comfort” to those who would not fully co-operate with the inquiry. “I do, of course, agree with that point of view. That is clear in the report and while there may be legalistic argument about how that came to happen, that is a finding of the report and the Government clearly accepts that finding.”
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs was unable to say last night when or whether a new Irish envoy to the Holy See would be appointed to replace former ambassador Noel Fahey who retired during the summer. The department does not comment in advance of ambassadorial appointments.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s planned Cabinet meeting, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said promised new child protection measures are “very much on target”, with legislation to be published by the end of next month.
Mr Shatter said moves to put the obligatory reporting of child abuse to the Garda on a statutory footing, as well as the vetting of adults who work with children, were well under way.
Victim support groups depicted the Vatican’s response as a move to dodge responsibility. Adapting a phrase used by Mr Kenny in his Dáil speech, abuse victim Andrew Madden said the “gimlet eye of the canon lawyer had been busy” in preparing the document.