By Paul O’Brien, Political Editor
THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2011
THE Cloyne report into clerical child sex abuse has exposed the “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism” at the heart of the Vatican, Enda Kenny has said in a blistering denunciation of the Holy See.
The rape and torture of children was deliberately “downplayed” in order to protect the Vatican’s primacy and power, the Taoiseach told the Dáil yesterday.
Making clear that the days of Church dominance over the state were long gone, Mr Kenny declared: “This is not Rome… (but) a republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities, of proper civic order, where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version, of a particular kind of ‘morality’, will no longer be tolerated or ignored.”
Mr Kenny was speaking as TDs unanimously backed a motion expressing sympathy with victims and deploring the Vatican’s attempts to frustrate the reporting of abuse cases to the authorities.
He said the revelations of the Cloyne report had brought the Government, Catholics and the Vatican to an “unprecedented juncture”.
While previous reports into child sex abuse had left the country “unshockable”, Cloyne had proved to be “of a different order” because it exposed “an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago”.
In doing so, the report “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day”, Mr Kenny said.
“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.
“Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s ‘ear of the heart’, the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”
This calculated position was the “polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion” upon which the Church was founded, Mr Kenny added.
“As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church. Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church — a Church truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.”
Mr Kenny said Irish law would “always supersede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country”.
The Government now awaited the “considered response” of the Vatican on the issue, he said.
But the state also had to “get its house in order”, he added, pointing to failures by the previous administration and the HSE, and saying legislation would be brought forward to improve child protection.
Reacting last night, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, criticised the “cabal” in the Church who had refused to recognise procedures set out in 2001 by the current Pope for dealing with abuse cases.
He also expressed concern that the Irish Church’s own watchdog — the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) — may have insufficient powers when it comes to examining how individual dioceses are handling abuse cases.
Asked on RTÉ if his fellow bishops could be trusted, he replied: “I hope they can. But if there is somebody there that is not prepared to be honest, they will only be discovered when an audit is there which has the powers to be invasive.
“(NBSC chief executive) Ian Elliot has moral power, but for moral power to work, you must have people who act morally, and if there are people acting immorally, then moral power won’t be enough.”
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, July 21, 2011