Papal Nuncio should be expelled - Flanagan

Friday 15 July 2011 12.12
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Giuseppe Leanza - Will bring a copy of the Cloyne Report to the Vatican
Giuseppe Leanza - Will bring a copy of the Cloyne Report to the Vatican
Eamon Gilmore - Discussed Cloyne Report with Papal Nuncio
Eamon Gilmore - Discussed Cloyne Report with Papal Nuncio
Charlie Flanagan - Vatican guilty of a massive deceit
Charlie Flanagan - Vatican guilty of a massive deceit

Chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party Charlie Flanagan has called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio, following the revelations in the Cloyne Report.

Mr Flanagan, who is also a TD for Laois-Offaly, said the scandals uncovered showed the Vatican was guilty of a massive deceit.

He said that if any foreign government conspired with Irish citizens to break the law here, their ambassadors would be expelled and he believed the same standards should apply to the Papal Nuncio.

Earlier, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Guiseppe Leanza, that he wants a 'response' and an explanation from the Vatican as to why Irish church guidelines were ignored and allegations of abuse went unreported in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Gilmore said it was 'absolutely unacceptable' that the Vatican had intervened in Ireland and discouraged priests from reporting crimes against innocent children.

Mr Gilmore said what happened in Ireland was 'a totally inappropriate, unjustified, unacceptable intervention'.

'This is modern Ireland and this was a recent occasion of abuse of children and this was a recent intervention by Vatican authorities,' he said.

Mr Gilmore said the Papal Nuncio had expressed remorse about what had happened.

Asked whether the Government would be seeking an apology from the Vatican, Mr Gilmore said what he wanted first was a response to the findings in the report.

He said it was a matter for the Vatican to decide whether the Pope would respond himself.

The Tánaiste said this was a formal request from the State of Ireland to the Vatican state. He said he had not set a timeframe for the response, but that he would follow-up the request.

In his statement, Archbishop Leanza said he would immediately bring a copy of the report to the attention of the Holy See.

He said he personally was very distressed to learn that there had once again been failures in ensuring the protection of children within the church, despite all the good work that had been done.

Speaking to RTÉ News today, former child protection delegate of the diocese, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, said that he has major regrets about the way he implemented the church's child protection guidelines in the diocese.

The diocese's new designated officer for safeguarding children has said no new reports of child abuse have been reported in Cloyne since February.

No exemptions on mandatory reporting

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the new law on mandatory reporting of child abuse will apply irrespective of location or circumstance of the persons involved.

Mr Kenny was replying to a question from journalists as to whether the traditional Catholic seal of the confessional will be exempted from the law.

'The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier or by collar,' he said.

He added he hopes the response from the Government to the Cloyne Report will make it beyond a doubt that things are reported and the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.

The Taoiseach described as 'absolutely disgraceful' the attitude of the Vatican to complaints of child sex abuse in the Cloyne.

The Cloyne Report is to be debated in the Dáil next week.

Opposition reaction

Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív said his party would continue to support any initiative that would ensure that such acts would never happen again.

Mr Ó Cuív described what had happened as unforgivable.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the report was another chapter in the 'sordid story of the violation of children and the sheltering of abuse perpetrators by the (Catholic) church'.

Ms McDonald said it needed to be recognised that to date the State has failed children.

She welcomed the Government's commitment to legislate to boost protection of children, but asked the Tánaiste to do it with urgency.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins said people were 'throwing their hands in the air' at the revelations in the Cloyne Report.

He said what was most shocking was that the subject matter was so recent and that the bishop at the heart of the report, Bishop John Magee, was also at the heart of Vatican bureaucracy for so long.

In Northern Ireland, the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said there is now a compelling argument for establishing a similar investigation into the Catholic dioceses in Northern Ireland.

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