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The State's Hypocritical Anger at the Vatican

David Quinn Fri, 15/07/2011 - 12:08

The Vatican stands accused of interfering with the laws of the land. Enda Kenny has described as “disgraceful” the Vatican’s response to child protection as outlined in the Cloyne report. He indicated that the Irish embassy to the Holy See might be closed down.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Gilmore, met the Papal Nuncio and said the Vatican’s intervention in Irish affairs was “absolutely unacceptable”. He said the future status of the nunciature (embassy) in Ireland would await the Vatican’s response.

Fine Gael party chairman, Charlie Flanagan, has said the nuncio should be expelled.

So, what did the Vatican do that has caused this outpouring of anger? Did it tell the bishops not to cooperate with the State authorities? The answer to that question is, it did not.

The anger stems from a letter from the Congregation for the Clergy circulated to the bishops in 1997 by the nuncio in Ireland (not the present nuncio, incidentally).

That letter expressed reservations with aspects of the Irish bishops’ new child protection policy known as the Framework Document which had been unveiled the previous year.

The main concern was to do with the policy’s mandatory reporting requirement, which the Congregation said gave rise to “serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature”.

It was also concerned that the procedures outlined in the document for dealing with accused priests were contrary to canon law and therefore if a priest was disciplined in a manner contrary to his rights under canon law, it would make it easy for him to overturn the action on appeal to the Vatican.

Eventually, the Irish bishops wanted their child protection policy to be made binding on the Irish Church but the Vatican refused to grant it this status, presumably for the above reasons.

But the anger the State is directing towards the Vatican should logically be directed with equal force against itself because until literally this week, the Irish State has also had reservations about a mandatory reporting policy, and it has also been against making its own child protection policy, Children First, part of State law.

In other words, the State’s attitude towards its own child protection policy was almost identical to the Vatican’s attitude towards the Framework Document.

Therefore, Enda Kenny should be condemning the State’s previous attitude, along with the Vatican’s as “disgraceful”.
So in what way did the Vatican interfere with the laws of the State? The answer is, didn’t interfere. It was commenting on Church law, not State law although it can certainly be said that the Congregation for the Clergy was overly concerned with the rights of priests under canon law.

Finally, it should be noted that both this Pope and Pope John Paul II have repeatedly told the world’s bishops to cooperate with the State authorities regarding clerical sex abuse allegations. This has been forgotten along with much else in the present wave of anger.