This image shows a copy of a newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, warning Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police, a disclosure that victims groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up. The letter documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits. Via the Globe and Mail.The aftermath of the Cloyne Report, about which I’ve blogged already, continues to play out, in Ireland and in Vatican City. The Vatican threw a fit, recalling their nuncio to Ireland because Taoiseach Enda Kenny dared call the Vatican out for its conduct in the clerical child-abuse scandal. This nuncial recall was, all by itself, a childish reaction to criticism, and showed how out-of-touch the Holy See is. But as is normal with the Holy See, it has not changed. The BBC reports that the Holy See once again has dug its heels in and remains firmly in denial that it could have done anything wrong (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police. …

In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims.

The Vatican said it was “sorry and ashamed” over the scandal but said his claims were “unfounded”.

“The Holy See is deeply concerned at the findings of the commission of inquiry concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the diocese of Cloyne,” said the Vatican, in a detailed response to the allegations [cached].

“The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

“Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

The Vatican continues to claim innocence in spite of the discovery of a “smoking gun” document … a (then) secret letter to Ireland’s bishops in 1997 … which showed the Holy See had derailed efforts by those same bishops to cooperate more fully with secular authorities (cached). As the BBC article relates, the Vatican insists any such conclusion about the letter is a “misinterpretation”:

But the Holy See’s response, published on Saturday, said Mr Kenny’s blistering accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

I challenge anyone to read this letter (available at the NY Times and on this server) and not conclude — rather than “interpret” — that it was intended to do anything other than prevent the sort of cooperation with local authorities that the Irish bishops had been contemplating in the mid-90s. It clearly and explicitly states that, for example, mandatory reporting requirements are, in papal eyes, canonically and morally problematic:

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.

What Irish bishop, reading this Vatican instruction, would fail to conclude that he should not follow mandatory reporting guidelines? Seriously?

Once again the Vatican demonstrates its proclivity to act in denialistic and juvenile fashion, continually refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing, even in light of demonstrable evidence of its own wrongdoing. The robed denizens of the Holy See — nearly all of them middle-aged or elderly — are far too old to be acting as childishly as this. It’s time for them to act their ages.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.