Belfast Telegraph

Papal recall shows Vatican worried by the storm in Ireland

Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

The recall of the Irish Papal Nuncio Guiseppe Leanza to Rome shows just how seriously the Vatican is taking the unprecedented outpouring of criticism from the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The recent Cloyne Report was deeply critical of serious shortcomings on the part of the Newry-born Bishop John Magee and the Vatican itself in dealing with child sexual abuse in the West Cork diocese.

Last week Enda Kenny, in a historic broadside, accused the Vatican of trying to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry "in a sovereign democratic republic" as recently as three years ago, despite the strict guidelines already in place.

In the strongest language the Taoiseach claimed that "the rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation".

This unrestrained condemnation has seriously rattled the usually unflappable Roman hierarchy, which has traditionally regarded the Vatican as a separate state that stands apart from many of the secular laws of other countries.

The Vatican has not been direct, as yet, in its response to the Taoiseach's criticism. The Roman hierarchy can recall its Irish-based diplomat at any time for a briefing, but by announcing this action publicly it is showing that it is taking the Irish accusations very seriously indeed.

The overwhelming public and political support for Enda Kenny, including messages from many Catholic parish clergy, have underlined that the people are fed up with Roman clerical duplicity and that the Irish-Vatican relationship is at an all-time low.

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The Vatican is currently playing for time, but this row is not going to go away.

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