THE Vatican today acknowledged “grave failures” over the handling of a child sex abuse scandal involving priests in southern Ireland that sparked outrage in the Dublin government.
While denying any suggestion that it sought to hamper investigations into the scandal in the diocese of Cloyne, the Vatican expressed deep concern at the findings of an official report commissioned by the Irish government.
“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 a Vatican statement.
The Vatican also “wishes to state its abhorrence for the crimes of sexual abuse which took place in that diocese”, the statement added.
July’s publication of the report into more than a decade of abuse by priests in Cloyne triggered an unprecedented attack by Prime Minister Enda Kenny who called the Roman Catholic Church’s behaviour “absolutely disgraceful”.
While Pope Benedict XVI last year wrote a letter to Irish Catholics expressing shame and remorse over the abuse of children by members of the clergy, campaigners say the Church has been guilty of a cover-up.
In the statement today, the Vatican denied that it had tried to block inquiries by the Irish authorities.
“The Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into child sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne,” it said.
The Cloyne report condemned the Church’s handling of abuse claims against 19 clerics in Cloyne between 1996 and 2009, saying it was “inadequate and inappropriate”.
In language never before used by an Irish leader, an outraged Prime Minister Kenny later told parliament the Church’s inability to deal with the cases showed a culture of “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism” at the Vatican.
The Vatican subsequently recalled its envoy to Ireland in order to formulate an official response.
The Cloyne case is only the latest in a series of abuse scandals for the Catholic Church in Ireland that were first exposed in a 2009 report detailing hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children by priests going back decades.