Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Irish government stays firm on Catholic Church abuse vow

Enda Kenny launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican

The Irish government is sticking to its pledge to force priests to break the secrets of the confessional box and reveal abuse as tensions boiled over with the Vatican.

Relations between the Vatican and the Republic plunged to a new low as the Holy See's ambassador was recalled to Rome to discuss the fallout from the Cloyne Report.

On top of the diplomatic row, a senior Vatican official dismissed Dublin's plans to bring in a new law to compel priests to pass on details of abuse revealed in confession.

In the wake of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's scathing attack on the Vatican, Monsignor Giuseppe Leanza was summoned back to Rome so he could refer Pope Benedict XVI and senior Church officials to details of the damning report which accused the Catholic hierarchy of covering up for paedophile priests.

The Irish government attempted to play down the significance of the move.

However, the Taoiseach will not be retracting any of his comments and sources believe the Vatican is now taking the request for a comprehensive response to the report seriously.

The Vatican stressed that recalling the Nuncio was a sign of just how serious it was taking the report and how stunned the Holy See had been by Mr Kenny's attack.

The Vatican deputy press officer, Father Ciro Benedettini, said: "The recall of the Nuncio, denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See's desire to face it objectively and determinately."

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the decision to recall the Papal Nuncio to the Vatican for consultations is a matter for the Holy See.

Aside from the diplomatic row over the recall, Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, of the Vatican's Apostolic Penitentiary, dismissed suggestions priests should break the secrets of the confessional box, adding: "Ireland can approve all the laws it wants, but it should know the Church will never allow itself the obligation to betray the confessional to civil authorities."

Irish justice minister Alan Shatter reiterated his plan to bring in the new law on the withholding information on crimes against children and vulnerable adults.

What now?

There was no mention yesterday of the Vatican having summoned ex-Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, to assist in its internal inquiries.

As heads of Roman departments draft the response with Archbishop Leanza, one view about the next move is that he will not return to Dublin, but move on to quieter pastures.

A second option is that Monsignor Leanza will return to Dublin, perhaps by the end of the week, to deliver the official response. Its contents would mean the calling of a Irish cabinet meeting next week to consider it.

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