Belfast Telegraph

Irish Government warns Vatican

The Irish Government has warned the Vatican it expects its fullest co-operation in ensuring children are safe from paedophile priests.

The Cabinet said it stood by Taoiseach Enda Kenny's unprecedented attack on the Catholic hierarchy and kept the view Rome had interfered in Irish civil law.

The Government maintained Mr Kenny reflected the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the Church's failure to deal adequately with clerical child sex abusers.

But it said in spite of outstanding differences it welcomed the Holy See's commitment to dialogue and co-operation with the Government.

"In welcoming this commitment, the Government expects the fullest co-operation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuring that Ireland is a society fully safe for children and minors and that all of those with responsibility for the welfare and care of children in this country are fully subject to Irish laws and requirements," it added.

On June 20 Mr Kenny accused the Vatican of frustrating a state inquiry on clerical abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne as recently as three years ago. The inquiry found child protection guidelines, including reporting to civil authorities, were not followed.

In its long-awaited 25-page response, released last Saturday, the Vatican flatly rejected his accusations, claiming they were unfounded. But in its first official statement in response to the Holy See, the Irish Government stood by its criticisms of Rome.

"Having considered carefully the Cloyne Report and the response of the Holy See, the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 from the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Storero, to the Irish Bishops, regardless of whether or not it was intended to do so, provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full co-operation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors," it stated.

"This is a matter of great concern to the Irish Government."

However it acknowledged and welcomed the statement that the Holy See was sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have endured. "The victims of abuse and their families must remain foremost in our considerations," the Government statement added.

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