Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Response

As it is Sunday morning, this post will be brief - I have to give a day retreat in the afternoon and evening, so I may not get a chance later.  A few musings on the Vatican's response to the Irish government. 

I had a quick read of the document, and I have to say it is a fine piece of writing.  First of all I would have to disagree with Eamon Gilmore when he describes it as "legalistic and technical" - yes, it deals with legal issues, but Gilmore's comment seems to me to say that the document is difficult to read and full of technical terms - almost a bluff perhaps.  Well it is not.  It is easy to read and I would urge all of you to read it: it is the Vatican at her best.

A second observation is that this document is devastating in its clarity and argumentation.  In it the Holy See takes the Cloyne Report and the Taoiseach's accusations, examines them in full and then provides a response which reveals the Taoiseach's accusations to be completely unfounded. 

The Vatican offers a plausible context within which to interpret the letter of 1997, a context which seems to have been lost on Judge Murphy, the government and also, sadly to say, on certain victims's groups.  In looking at the question of mandatory reporting, the authors of the document have certainly done their homework and have referred to and quoted from Irish politicians - some members of the current administration, who expressed difficulties with the proposal to introduce the practice, including Michael Noonan, present Minister for Finance, then Minister for Health who defended the then government's decision not to introduce mandatory reporting. 

This is devastating for the present government: for it reveals that as they now condemn the Vatican for reservations about mandatory reporting back in 1997, at that time, when they (Fine Gael, Labour and Democatic Left  - members of whom are now in Labour) were in government from the 15th December 1994 to 26th June 1997, they had similar reservations and took the decision not to introduce it.  This is deeply embarrassing for the government, but also for the Irish state - they have been caught out and exposed us the citizens to international ridicule!  Other governments will be reading this document and they will come to their own conclusion about the ability of those who are running our country, and given that we now rely on foreign aid to prop up our economy, the situation our Taoiseach and government have put us in is very worrying.  Let's hope the paymaster general of Europe, on whom we rely most heavily - Germany, does not take offence at Kenny's careless and unfounded allegations against their Pope.

The Holy See's response also clarifies the quotation from Pope Benedict used by the Taoiseach in his attack, putting it in its proper context - politicians should be careful when they quote both Scripture and Church documents, not being theologians, they are liable to slips in understanding.

That's all I have time for.  We await the government's response.  I noted last night on the 9 o'clock news the RTE was very subdued.  In his report from Rome Paul Cunningham spoke of the possibility of a "thaw" in relations between the government and the Holy See.  There was no interview with a victim which is usually the norm - they spoke briefly to the leader of one victims's group and referred to another.  Joe Little, the religious affairs correspondent, who never misses a chance to bash the Church, was very quiet and circumspect in his commentary.  And the newscaster moved on quickly to another item, no beating the story to death.  I think we can come to certain conclusions about that.

When all this over, I hope we can eventually get back to looking after the victims and then a make a firm commitment to rooting out child abuse not only from the Church, but also from Irish society.  The government can start by setting up an inquiry to find out why 200 children have died in State care in the last ten years, and others have gone missing - gone without a trace.  This fact has been, for the most part, swept under the carpet.  If they died or gone missing in Church care we would never hear the end of it, but since these children were in state care, just silence.....


  1. Totally agree, Father. To his shame, like an amateur County Councillor, Kenny was playing to the gallery to get votes, distract from the Roscommon Hospital affair and curry favour with abuse victims and enraged Irish. But he forgot that he was dealing with a professional organisation that has dealt with bigger fish than him. He can't make unfounded allegations against another sovereign entity and expect them to lie down and take it. I read the Vatican's response - it shows Kenny and with him the Irish state, to be petty and childish and unable to deal with serious issues in a mature way. He has disgraced this country, make us the laughing stock of the world. As long as Kenny remains as Taoiseach this government has no credibility.

  2. How do you do a "day retreat" in an afternoon?

    Gilmore and Kenny have revealed themselves to be cowardly, lying....well I don't want to say what I really think on a holy priest's web site, or on this one - but you can read my thoughts here:

  3. I expected nothing less from the Holy See than a full and precise answer to each of the accusations or innuendos against the Holy See in each of the official statements/communications that emanated from the State in relation to (and including) the Cloyne Report - and that is what we got. The response is in no way legal or legalistic; neither is it technical, if by that is meant that it is esoteric and inacessible by the average person, rather it is clear and precise and deals with each accusation or suggestion in a logical and comprehensive way, showing that there was no evidence for any of them and, moreover, that there was overwhelming evidence (including from State's own inquiries/findings) proving otherwise. As for the blatantly erroneous interpretation of then Cardinal Ratzinger's document on the duties and limits of theologians to the Church - as I have said many times, this was so unacceptable, even from a purely intellectual perspective (a second level student wd get an automatic fail and a reprimand if he attempted to misapply a statement in respect of one issue to an entirely unrelated and non-analagous one) as to deserve nothing more than contempt. Nevertheless, the Holy See dealt with it objectively, without unnecessary emphasis or condemnation. The conclusions are rightly left for the reader to draw. All in all, an intellectually incisive and honest response, with appropriate diplomatic decorum and respect, imbued with charity and concern for what is right and for relations with Irish State founded on the same. If only all Church State communications could be of this standard! - but then there wouldn't have been a problem to begin with, and all energies would be focussed on the protection of our children from all types of sexual abuse, from all sources. Lynda

  4. Well said Father. Gilmore's nonsense shows him up for what he is.