Vatican recalls envoy to Ireland

The Vatican has recalled its envoy to Ireland following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s trenchant criticism of the Holy See’s role in covering up cases of clerical child sex abuse.

Deputy Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Apostolic Nuncio of Ireland, had been recalled from Dublin for consultations in the wake of the Cloyne report.

Fr Benedettini confirmed Dr Leanza had already arrived in Rome.

He said the principal aim of the recall was to make it easier for its secretary of state and other officials to prepare the Holy See’s official response to the Government in the wake of the Cloyne report into the mishandling of child sex abuse claims.

“The recall of the nuncio, being a measure verily adopted by the Holy See, denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See’s desire to face it objectively and determinately,” he said. “Nor does it exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions.”

Fr Benedettini added: “The recall of the nuncio should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) Government.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, who met Archbishop Leanza earlier this month, said the recall was a matter for the Holy See.

“The Government is awaiting the response of the Holy See to the recent report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, and it is to be expected that the Vatican would wish to consult in depth with the nuncio on its response,” he added.

In language never used by an Irish leader, Mr Kenny last week accused the Vatican of downplaying the rape and torture of children in order to uphold its own power and reputation.

At the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, last night, Mr Kenny said he had received “thousands” of messages from around the world in response to his speech.

This reflected the way people felt about this issue, he said. Mr Kenny added he was “astounded” by the number of clergy who had been in touch to say it was “about time” someone in his position spoke out.

The Taoiseach received a standing ovation when he finished delivering the annual lecture in honour of Nobel laureate and former SDLP leader John Hume at the opening session of the summer School.

Referring to his Dáil speech last Wednesday on the Cloyne report, he said: “I made a few remarks this week about children, which means a lot to me, I have to say.

“I just wanted people to understand that, when I say we live in a republic with laws and responsibilities and rights, I mean it. The fact that I have had thousands of messages from around the world speaks for itself about the impact and the way people feel.

“The numbers of members of the clergy who have been in touch in the last few days, to say it is about time somebody spoke out about these matters in a situation like you are, has astounded me,” Mr Kenny said.

“I haven’t made any other comment except to say that we await the response from the Vatican.

“I like to think that part of what we do in Government is to create the environment where the innocence of children can develop naturally through their formative years,” Mr Kenny said.

He said this was in the hope, “that when they grow up and grow old they will look back with a sense of pride and a sense of respect for where they came from”.

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Catholic church’s plea could rule out damages for priests’ abuse

Victims’ lawyers condemn ‘scandalous’ defence that Catholic priests are not legally employees of the church

Victims of sexual abuse by priests will no longer be able to sue the Catholic church for damages if a landmark judgment rules that priests should not be considered as employees.

In a little publicised case heard this month at the high court, the church claimed that it is not “vicariously liable” for priests’ actions. The church has employed the argument in the past but this was the first time it had been used in open court and a ruling in the church’s favour would set a legal precedent.

The use of the defence raises further questions about the church’s willingness to accept culpability for abuse. It follows a damning report into abuse at the diocese of Cloyne in Ireland which prompted the Irish president, Mary McAleese, to call on leaders of the church “to urgently reflect on how, by coherent and effective action, it can restore public trust and confidence in its stated objective of putting children first”.

Those planning to bring claims in relation to the high court case expressed dismay. “As children, we weren’t given an innocent, carefree and safe environment,” said one. “We weren’t given a peaceful structure in which to grow and develop normally. By some miracle, some of us are still here to voice the words of so many who can’t. Only a small number of victims ever come forward. The full potential of who we could have been as adults has been stolen.”

The church’s defence has been condemned by lawyers. “I think the Catholic church’s attempt to avoid responsibility for the abhorrent actions of one of its priests is nothing short of scandalous,” said Richard Scorer of the law firm Pannone, which specialises in abuse cases. “The Catholic church would be better served by facing up to its responsibilities rather than trying to hide behind spurious employment law arguments.”

The ruling is being made as part of a preliminary hearing into the case of “JGE”, who claims to have been sexually abused while a six-year-old resident at The Firs, a children’s home in Portsmouth run by an order of nuns, the English Province of Our Lady of Charity. “If we fail, it would mean that no other victims of Catholic priests would be able to be compensated,” said Tracey Emmott of Emmott Snell, a specialist in working with sexual abuse claims who is representing JGE.

JGE alleges that she was sexually abused by Father Wilfred Baldwin, a priest of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portsmouth and its “vocations director”, who regularly visited The Firs during the 70s. Her legal team claim the nuns were negligent and in breach of duty, and that the diocese was liable for Baldwin’s alleged abuse as he was a Catholic priest engaged within the work of the diocese.

Previous hearings in the House of Lords and the court of appeal relating to other church organisations have found that ministers should be treated as employees. But there has been no judgment yet on whether the relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship.

“They claim that the relationship between the bishop of the diocese and the parish priest in question does not amount to anything akin to a relationship of employment, and therefore there cannot be any ‘vicarious liability’ for the priest’s acts,” Emmott said.

“That is to say, whatever sexual abuse their priests might commit, it is not their responsibility. They are absolved of blame. We need to show that, while Father Baldwin wasn’t strictly an employee of the church, he was acting on the bishop’s behalf and that the bishop clearly had a degree of control over his activities.”

Criminal proceedings against Baldwin, who was the subject of a police investigation, concluded when he died of a heart attack in 2006.

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Vatican denies ordering bishops’ silence

IN THE first sign of a reaction by the Vatican to the Cloyne report, its press officer has claimed the Holy See never instructed Irish bishops to withhold information on abuse cases.

Fr Federico Lombardi said that, instead, the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference was told at a meeting in Rosses Point, Sligo, in November 1998 that neither the Church nor its priests should impede the course of civil justice.

Fr Lombardi’s statement rejected criticism of the Congregation of the Clergy, which undermined the Irish Church’s framework child protection document in 1997 by advising that mandatory reporting of abuse allegation could be contrary to canon law.

The Cloyne report considered this intervention by the Vatican, in 1997, to be entirely unhelpful because it told the Irish bishops that the adoption of their framework document could be “highly embarrassing” for diocesan authorities.

Fr Lombardi’s statement, delivered through Vatican Radio, said that the Congregation of the Clergy was only ever told that the framework was a working document from a bishops’ committee and not the agreed position of the Episcopal Conference.

He said its response was not an invitation to disregard Irish civil law, because there was no law in place at the time to require mandatory reporting.

He also said that, in 1998, the prefect to the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Castrillion Hoyos, told the meeting in Sligo that the Church should not stand in the way of criminal investigations.

Fr Lombardi said the criticism of the Vatican since the publication of the Cloyne report went beyond any comments Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy made in the document itself, which he said were more balanced.

However, the survivors’ group One in Four described Fr Lombardi’s intervention as “wholly inadequate”.

Its executive director, Maeve Lewis, said his statement was an attempt to deny the findings of the Cloyne report.

“Fr Lombardi’s response completely lacks substance and is part of the now familiar refusal by the Vatican to acknowledge that the culture of loyalty and secrecy which facilitated the sexual abuse of children extended far beyond the Irish Church and that it was supported by official Vatican policy,” she said.

“It is further evidence, if it were needed, that the Vatican’s claim to prioritise the safety of children is completely lacking in credibility.

“It underlines the importance for the Irish state to ensure that an unequivocal legal framework is in place to protect children and to punish those who withhold information or place children in danger,” said Ms Lewis.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has already asked the papal nuncio in Ireland, Dr Giuseppe Leanza, to return to him with a full explanation on the comments made by the Vatican in 1997.

Fr Lombardi delivered his statement on Vatican Radio under the guise of a personal comment rather than an official one.

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Irish PM in unprecedented attack on Vatican

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has launched an unprecedented attack on the Catholic Church in parliament.

He said the recent Cloyne Report into how allegations of sex-abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up showed change was urgently needed.

Mr Kenny said the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again.

He said the report exposed the elitism, dysfunction, disconnection, and narcissism that dominated the Vatican.

“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’,” the taoiseach said.
‘Unprecedented’

“The revelations of the Cloyne Report have brought the government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.”

Opposition leader Michael Martin said that when he met the Papal Nuncio after the Murphy report into the cover-up of abuse in the Dublin diocese in 2009, he told him the government expected the full cooperation of the Vatican into the Cloyne inquiry.

However, he said, the Vatican chose to focus on the interests of the church rather than the children abused by its clergy and shielded by its leaders.

During the debate, the church was called upon to publish the audits currently being sent to every Catholic diocese in the country.

Sinn Fein spokesperson on health and children Caoimhghin O’Caolain said the government should consider coordinating with the Northern Ireland Executive on any future inquiries – particularly as four of the Catholic dioceses straddle the border.

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New Archbishop: Gay Marriage Stops Kids From Knowing Parents Love Them

The man who will become the new Archbishop of Philadelphia in September, Charles Chaput, came out swinging against same-​sex marriage equality today, suggesting that marriage between persons of the same gender is wrong because children need to know that their parents love them, and, somehow, same-​sex marriage denies children the knowledge that their parents love them. Chaput, the first Native American Archbishop, is heralded as an intellectual Evangelical leader. Chaput’s predecessor, Justin Rigali, and his predecessor, Anthony Bevilacqua have both been accused by a grand jury of covering up sexual abuse.

“As children, if we don’t know that our parents love one another, our lives are very unstable. That’s why I think every child deserves a family where the father loves the mother, and the mother loves the father,” Chaput says, illogically, regarding same-​sex marriage. If a child grows up with two fathers or two mothers, how will they not know they are loved by their parents? Typical religious attempt to de-​legimitize same-​sex headed households.

“This is the issue of our time,” Chaput adds, speaking of “gay marriage,” in an interview published today in the National Catholic Reporter. “The church understands marriage as a unique relationship, with a unique definition, which is the faithful love of a man and a woman for each other, permanent, and for the sake of children. As children, if we don’t know that our parents love one another, our lives are very unstable. That’s why I think every child deserves a family where the father loves the mother, and the mother loves the father. For us to redefine marriage as anything else undermines that notion. I think it’s very important that the church keep insisting on this.

“It’s also important to say that we’re not against gay people” Chaput says, towing the new line of religious rhetoric. Saying “we’re not against gay people,” while trying to de-​legimitize everything we do, including our relationships and our families, is ludicrous.

“What we’re doing here is promoting marriage and the meaning of marriage, not condemning others. The church does believe that human sexuality has a meaning in itself, that it’s about love and procreation. Any other sexual relationship is contrary to the Gospel, and so a relationship between two people of the same sex is not in line with the teachings of the church and the teachings of the Gospel, and is therefore wrong. That said, we should always respect people who do things contrary to the Gospel. We live in a society where different ways of life are accepted by the general community, and it’s important for us to live in a way that’s not hostile to people.

“We have a duty as Catholics, however, to speak clearly about God’s plan for human happiness. Part of that plan is traditional, faithful, Catholic/​Christian marriage.”

Once again, the Catholic Church is in direct contradiction with its congregants.

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