Vatican expresses “surprise, disappointment at excessive Irish reaction”

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican made the rare move of recalling its ambassador to Ireland on Monday following accusations that the Holy See sabotaged efforts by Catholic bishops to report clerical sex abuse cases to police.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore had summoned papal ambassador Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza two weeks ago and demanded an official response from the Vatican. The Vatican has said it will issue one at the “opportune time” but has not done so yet.

The principal aim was for direct consultations to prepare the Holy See’s official response but the measure “does not exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions,” said deputy spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, answering questions from reporters.

Repercussions from the long-running scandal have grown increasingly bitter, with Ireland’s lawmakers making an unprecedented denunciation of the Holy See’s influence in the predominantly Catholic country.

Read it all.

The New York Times – Deepening standoff

Irish Times – Reports on the recall, and the broader reaction to the government’s stance.

Maureen Dowd’s op-ed from Sunday is worth a look.

The Irish were taken aback by the ire of the ordinarily amiable, soft-spoken Kenny, the longest-serving parliamentarian in the land. In his first few months as Taoiseach, the 60-year-old had not given any sign that he could throw such Zeus-style thunderbolts. But bankrupt and battered Eire, which needed a shot of muscular national pride, was thrilled with his emphatic articulation of their revulsion at the tragedy, and his assertion of Ireland as a sovereign republic not under the thumb of Rome.

“If you look at some of his predecessors, going right back 50 years, they would have been very much of the view that they were Catholics first and politicians second,” said Diarmaid Ferriter, a professor of modern Irish history at University College Dublin….“There has been this very obvious and planned and hugely arrogant policy of obfuscation and deliberate delaying tactics and complete avoidance of responsibility on the part of the Vatican. They were actually treating the sovereign government of Ireland with complete contempt.”

Garry O’Sullivan, the editor of The Irish Catholic, compared the resonance of the speech to the French revolution, without the violence. “The French Republic didn’t kick out the Catholic Church, but they set up a French Catholic Church and kicked out Rome,” he said. “Kenny has tapped into a vein in the Irish psyche, people saying, ‘Well done for standing up to those bloody bishops and the pope.’ ….”

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, who has been frozen out by the Vatican and his fellow Irish bishops for his tender solicitude toward abuse victims, teared up on Irish TV talking about Kenny’s cri de coeur. What church “cabal” is this in the Vatican or Ireland, he asked, “who try to undermine what is being done, or simply refuse to understand what is being done?”

Past Posts