Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Anger mounts at Vatican silence on Cloyne sex abuse report

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza speaks outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin
Former bishop John Magee
Priests will not be excused for withholding information about alleged child abuse even if it is given to them during confession under planned reforms

The Irish government was at war with the Vatican last night over its silence on the Cloyne sex abuse report as anger grew at the failure of Bishop John Magee to publicly apologise for his role in the scandal.

Relations between the Republic and the Holy See deteriorated dramatically yesterday, with Mr Kenny describing the Vatican's attitude towards the reporting of abuse allegations as "absolutely disgraceful".

Mr Kenny backed tough new laws that will compel priests to report paedophiles to gardai, even if they are told of the abuse in the confession box.

"The law of the land should not be stopped by crozier or by collar," he said.

The hardline Irish government stance followed revelations in the Cloyne Report that Newry-born Bishop Magee and the Vatican encouraged the concealment of abuse allegations.

The bishop has not appeared in public since the Commission of Investigation report - published on Wednesday - found him primarily responsible for the failure of the diocese to report clerical abuse allegations to gardai over a 13-year period.

One victim said it was "beyond belief" that Catholic authorities had not insisted Bishop Magee be available to answer questions about his actions.

"It speaks volumes about the attitude from top to bottom.

It is absolutely appalling and heartbreaking," she said.

The continued mystery of where the disgraced ex-Bishop of Cloyne John Magee has gone into hiding continued to compound the dismay of the Vatican and the Irish church.

He has not been seen at his home in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, for several weeks and locals said they believed he had travelled to the US. Further fury was stirred by Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, Cloyne's retired Vicar General and child protection delegate, who said he did not care where Bishop Magee was as he was entitled to his privacy.

A spokesman for Cashel Archbishop Dermot Clifford, who was put in temporary charge of Cloyne, said the Archbishop genuinely did not know where Bishop Magee was. "Bishop Magee is a retired bishop and is accountable only to the Pope," the spokesman added.

Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, who has taken over the running of the diocese, said it would be "helpful" for Bishop Magee to be available to answer questions.

Earlier, Ireland's Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore summoned Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanze, to the Department of Foreign Affairs to explain why the Vatican gave individual bishops the freedom to disregard agreed 1996 child protection guidelines.

Mr Gilmore said the report's "deeply disturbing" conclusions had given rise to a new public anger at the failure of the church and Vatican authorities to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse in Ireland.

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