Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

Leaked cable lays bare how Irish government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying to Murphy commission

A WikiLeaks cable details the behind-the-scenes diplomacy before Cardinal Seán Brady met Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, after which the pope said he shared the ‘outrage, betrayal and shame’ of Irish Catholics. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating the clerical abuse of children and was angered when they were summoned from Rome, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks reveal.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy “offended many in the Vatican” who felt that the Irish government had “failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations”, a cable says.

Despite the lack of co-operation from the Vatican, the commission was able to substantiate many of the claims and concluded that some bishops had tried to cover up abuse, putting the interests of the Catholic church ahead of those of the victims. Its report identified 320 people who complained of child sexual abuse between 1975 and 2004 in the Dublin archdiocese.

A cable entitled “Sex abuse scandal strains Irish-Vatican relations, shakes up Irish church, and poses challenges for the Holy See” claimed that Vatican officials also believed Irish opposition politicians were making political hay from the situation by publicly urging the government to demand a reply from the Vatican.

Ultimately, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (equivalent to a prime minister), wrote to the Irish embassy, ordering that any requests related to the investigation must come through diplomatic channels.

In the cable Noel Fahey, the Irish ambassador to the Holy See, told the US diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes that the Irish clergy sex abuse scandal was the most difficult crisis he had ever managed.

The Irish government wanted “to be seen as co-operating with the investigation” because its own education department was implicated, but politicians were reluctant to press Vatican officials to answer the investigators’ queries.

According to Fahey’s deputy, Helena Keleher, the government acceded to Vatican pressure and granted them immunity from testifying. Officials understood that “foreign ambassadors are not required or expected to appear before national commissions”, but Keleher’s opinion was that by ignoring the commission’s requests the clergy had made the situation worse.

The cable reveals the behind-the-scenes diplomacy in which politicians in the Irish government attempted to persuade an imperious Vatican to engage with the investigation.

The foreign minister, Michael Martin, “was forced to call in the papal nuncio (representative)” to discuss the situation. The ambassador reported that resentment towards the church in Rome remained very high in Ireland, largely because of the institutionalised cover-up of abuse by the Catholic church hierarchy.

Finally the Vatican changed tactics and on 11 December 2009 the ambassador stated that the pope had held a meeting with senior Irish clerics. The Irish cardinal Seán Brady and the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, went to Rome and met the pontiff, who was flanked by Bertone and four other cardinals.

At the end of the meeting, the Vatican issued a statement saying that the pope shared the “outrage, betrayal, and shame” of Irish Catholics, that he was praying for the victims, and that the church would take steps to prevent recurrences.

On 21 March this year, Benedict issued a letter savaging the Irish bishops for their earlier handling of the crisis: “Grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness.”

He also apologised to the victims: “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.”

In a section entitled “Some Lessons Learned, but Crisis Will Play Out for Years”, the ambassador related that his contacts at the Vatican and in Ireland expected the crisis in the Irish Catholic church to be protracted over several years, as the Murphy commission dealt only with allegations from the Dublin archdiocese.

They believed further investigations into other archdioceses would lead, “officials in both states lament, to additional painful revelations”.

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19 comments on “Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

  1. I HAVE ALWAY’S BEEN OF THE OPINION THAT THE VATICAN ARE THE ORIGINAL MAFIA!

    JIMMY

  2. Let’s never forget that the government were as complicit in the abuse of children as were the religious orders. They’re still guilty now that they are doing what many regard as “shady deals” with religious orders. Separate Church and State one and for all. It has to happen, otherwise nothing will ever change. Paddy.

  3. Bertie also knew what he was doing when he handed over the reins of power in Fianna Fáil to Brian Cowen. Cute as a fox is Bertie. Paddy.

  4. The Vatican are “offended” by the audacity of Judge murphy in requesting information about serious crimes against children in Ireland. The Vatican appears more and more like a crime syndicate and any resemblence to christianity is accidental.

  5. Tis a layered cover up. The cable is written by the US diplomatic corps…

    BERTIE AHERN KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING INDEMNIFYING THE VATICAN AGAINST CIVIL LITIGATION AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

    HE COULDN’T force THE VATICAN TO FACE JUSTICE WITHOUT …THE IRISH GOVERNMENT AND IT’S INSTITUTIONS FACING JUSTICE.

    The Irish Government and Institutions of State and The Vatican are equals in this crime.

    THE CUTE HOOR APPROACH..

    “make it LOOK like somethings being done!”

    I doubt the ‘dressing down’ story – I submit it’s more likely that Chruch Officials and Government Officials discussed in private a whole raft of ‘approaches’ with the primary intent of both parties avoiding Criminal Justice.

    But both Vatican and Government Oligarchy have underestimated the Survivors.

    They SURVIVED – and they are tough as nails and absolutely committed to the task in hand, and will not be bought off.

    And they understand the power relationships, and how they pollute community better than most.

    Can you imagine Governance by the most vulnerable, as opposed to the most Powerful?

  6. I’m with you on this one Paddy!
    The Government Paid the Abusers to Deliver the Abuse!
    The Government Monitored it!
    Yet the Government Absolved the Abusers through the Redress Act! and the Indemnity Deal!

    I no longer use the phrase “Religious” in this context and my Parents a Christians and would not want to tar anyone with faith with the same brush!

    The Redress Act is on its way to the “European Court of Human Rights”

    Help send it on its way @
    http://bit.ly/hi398P

    For those of you that want to get more “active”?
    http://bit.ly/agjWv0

  7. It seems to me that the Irish government when they called in the Papal Nuncio to give him a “dressing down” for the cover up by the Vatican on child abuse – it was nothing but a mere facade. Make no mistake, the government are as guilty as the “doddery old men in skirts” roaming around the Vatican. It’s time to reel them in and make them accountable for what their boss described as “heinous crimes”. Paddy.

  8. So they bowed down to the mighty Vatican and they bowed down to the criminal banks. This is what we call a republic?.

  9. It’s gas in a way to hear all the fools whining about Ireland losing it’s “sovereignty” because of the EU/IMF bailout.

    Ireland lost it’s sovereignty in 1922 when the British marched out and the Vatican crawled in.

    You might as well send your taxes to Rome and pay your TV licence in Maynooth.

  10. Abuse of Diplomatic Immunity!
    It must be removed!
    It is a worldwide Crime Against Children!

  11. Andrew Madden is just a rare gentleman. It’s my privilege to know him. He is fearless and says it like it is. No bulls**t! Paddy.

  12. The Vatican has described the posting of Wikileaks transcripts of secret and confidential material relating to it as an act of extreme seriousness.

    Forcing a child raped by a priest to take an oath protecting the rapist is a matter for promotion.

  13. I’ve just seen Andrew Madden’s response to this latest Wikileaks scandal (expose of La Mafia in The Vatican) on RTE TV evening news. Andrew Madden is one great guy – a real hero!

  14. Make no bones about it, the Vatican has historically been a powerhouse of war, terror, manipulation, political fixing and meglomania played out a worldwide scale with a sole objective of increasing its own power and restoring its role to that of primary religious government over all nations.

    The greatest practical threat to the dwindling power of the Vatican is that the TRUTH would emerge fully about its deeply vested interests and predelictions for pedophilia, torture, abuse and murder of children and its belief in violence and manipulation that is wholly in contradiction to the mask of ‘christian ideals’ and other sales wares that it presents at pulpit level.

    The truth that nearly emerged in Ireland was its closest call in recent times and this is why this matter has been so troublesome to Ratzinger and his cronies. He personally is now implicated in Germany.

    Wikileaks has done a great service, the facts have been laid bare but somewhat belated.

    What is all this about anyway, my personal view as a survivor is that this is the collision between the modern, enlightened forces of truth, logic, humanism and science and those ancient power structures which relied on control through manipulation of superstitions, magical powers and the creation of a death culture which for thousands of years has harnessed the weak, the despairing and vulnerable. Shamen, snake charmers, mystics, nothing more, no role for these in a modern society.

    The hoax is up, its now only a matter of time before the truth sinks in to politicians, citizens and leaders that the vatican is a spent force to which they can stand up against. All they need to do is throw off the mantel of fear induced in childhood and say ‘no more’.

  15. Why should anybody be surprised by this?

    What does “sovereign” mean again? Oh, I know “a law unto itself”. Yep, that sums up the Catholic Church alright!

  16. Ioften wonder about the way our memories are so alike.In golden bridge the head nun used to go on and on about the fact that we would be outcasts in civil life . this was drumed into our minds constanly. was it a method to destroy any trace of character. but where did this come from because it started a long time ago . perhaps generations have kept thier secrets for them . its the fact that we live in modern times that gives us the chance to be heard.it must have been part of thier training.’otherwise thay would not all have been so sure of themselves .i was convinced by peoples reaction that it was unbelievable that this could have happened in ireland. Which left me to get by alone.

  17. Vatican was ‘offended’ by requests for information from commission

    Saturday, December 11, 2010 – 12:49 PM

    Wikileaks documents published today show requests for information from the Murphy Commission “offended” many in the Vatican.

    The commission investigated the handling of clerical abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese.

    The leaked cable from the US Embassy to the Holy See reveals the Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before the Murphy Commission.

    In the end the cable suggests the Irish Government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying.

    Clerical abuse survivor Andrew Madden says he’s not surprised by the revelations.

    Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/vatican-was-offended-by-requests-for-information-from-commission-485306.html#ixzz17ooFqLUy

  18. FROM AN ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER YESTERDAY.

    OVER 2000 PEOPLE HAVE SAID THEY WERE SEXUALLY AND PHYSICALLY ABUSED AS CHILDREN WHILE IN THE CARE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE NETHERLAND’S, AS REVEALED BY AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION .
    HOLLAND RANK’S SECOND WORST BEHIND IRELAND, IN THE SCANDAL THAT HAS ROCKED THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN EUROPE AND THE USA, ALSO AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, AND CANADA.
    COMMISSION CHIEF WIM DEETMAN HAS URGED THE CHURCH TO SET UP A COMPENSATION SYSTEM FOR VICTIM’S.
    ————————————————–

    MEANWHILE , IN IRELAND, A VAST AMOUNT OF MONEY , LAND AND PROPERTY HAS BEEN CONTRIBUTED BY THE RELIGIOUS TO FURTHER ADDRESS THE SURVIVOR’S AND VICTIM’S , BUT FOR SOME STRANGE REASON, THE IRISH GOVERNMENT HAVE DECIDED TO SET UP A STATUTORY TRUST FUND , WHICH IS CLEARLY AGAINST THE WISH’S OF THE SURVIVOR’S AND VICTIM’S, MANY OF WHOM ARE SCATTERED ALL OVER THE WORLD NOW,AND
    MOST IN THEIR ELDER YEAR’S NOW, ARE BEING REFUSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A SAY IN THE ENTIRE MATTER, AND VIEW THE GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSED ACTION’S AS FURTHER ABUSE AND IN BREACH OF THEIR HUMAN RIGHT’S.

    JIMMY

  19. The Irish Government caved in to Vatican pressure to grant immunity to church officials in the investigation of decades of sex abuse by Irish clergy. And this happened not in the 1940s or 1950s or 1960s but in 21st. century Ireland – even though the Irish Government [Fianna Fail and the Green Party] KNEW that the Catholic Church and it’s Religious Orders had conspired to cover-up the abuses in the Institutions. They also knew that the Catholic Church and the Religious Orders had facilitated sexually violent psychopaths in their ranks to beat, and starve, and rape Irish children.

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