Patsy McGarry gets it right on the Vatican

The Irish Times – Thursday, July 28, 2011
Why is Vatican so miffed at reaction to Cloyne report?

July 28th, 1927


OPINION : SO, ROME is miffed at “excessive reactions” in Ireland
following publication of the Cloyne report. This State has spent
millions unearthing what has been available to Rome all along. In
October 2005, there was the Ferns report, costs to date: €2.3 million.

In May 2009, the Ryan report, estimated costs to date: at least €126
million. In November 2009, the Dublin report: costs to date €3.6
million. In July 2011, the Cloyne report: costs to date €1.9 million.
Total costs so far of the four statutory inquiries? €133.8 million,
with more to come.

None of this would have been necessary had the Catholic Church here
and in Rome co-operated fully in establishing the truth. Instead,
those that could be were dragged, kicking and screaming, into
disclosing what they desperately wanted to keep hidden. So, in Ferns,
abuse files on five further priests which should have been presented
to the inquiry remained unavailable until an accidental discovery in
the summer of 2005 – when the Ferns draft report was already
completed. A “regrettable error on the part of the diocese . . .” said
apostolic administrator to Ferns diocese, canon lawyer,
barrister-at-law and Dublin auxiliary bishop Eamon Walsh. Four years
later, Rome declined his resignation.

On May 15th, 2009, five days before the Ryan report was published, in
a letter to the redress board, the Christian Brothers said the
congregation “totally rejects any allegations of systemic abuse . . .
or that boys were inadequately fed or clothed . . . and vehemently
repudiates all unsubstantiated allegations of sexual abuse . . .” When
that letter was published in this newspaper on June 3rd, 2009, a
Christian Brothers statement “reflected their shame that as recently
as five days prior to publication of the [Ryan] report their responses
were still shamefully inadequate and hurtful”.

In January 2008, the former archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond
Connell went to the High Court to prevent his successor giving
documents to the Murphy commission. Later, he withdrew the action.

In 2008, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan lied
to the church’s child protection watchdog about abuse there.

This formidable desire to hide the truth on the part of senior clergy
in Ireland by lies, damn lies and mental reservation was not rooted in
any peculiar aversion on their part. It rested entirely on what they
understood was required of them by Rome.

Yet in his March 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope
Benedict XVI told the bishops that “some of you and your predecessors
failed, at times grievously”, when it came to child protection. Not a
word about Rome’s role in any of this.

Not a word about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who was responsible for the
1997 letter to the Irish bishops dismissing their 1996 Framework
Document as “merely a study document”. Which letter, the Cloyne report
said, “gave comfort and support” to those who “dissented from the
stated official Irish church policy” on child protection.

In 1999, when the Irish bishops were visiting Rome they were reminded
by a Vatican official they were “bishops first, not policemen” when it
came to reporting clerical child sex abuse.

But apologists for Rome insist all changed in May 2001 when then
prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in
the world. In Latin. One insisted that both be kept secret. The other
directed that all clerical child sex abuse allegations “with a
semblance of truth” be sent to the congregation and it would decide
whether they be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level.

Yet, as current chancellor of Dublin’s archdiocese Msgr John Dolan
told the Murphy commission, this policy “was subsequently modified as
Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals”.

The Cloyne report continues: “The position now, he [Msgr Dolan] said,
is that all cases brought to the attention of the archdiocese before
April 2001 and which were outside prescription . . . were not going to
be dealt with by the CDF. It was up to the bishop to apply
disciplinary measures to the management of those priests.”

In effect, the Irish bishops were back where they were before 2001. As
Murphy reported: “Victims have expressed disappointment that neither
the Framework Document nor its successor, Our Children, Our Church
(2005), received recognition from Rome, thus leaving both documents
without legal status under canon law.”

This, Murphy found, “was in direct contrast to the approach adopted by
the Holy See to the request of the American Conference of Bishops”.
The truth is Rome tied the hands of those Irish bishops and religious
superiors who wanted to address the abuse issue properly.

Yet, Rome did not even acknowledge correspondence from the Murphy
commission in September 2006. Instead it complained the commission did
not use proper channels. So, in February 2007, the Murphy commission
wrote to then papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto
requesting he forward “all documents in his possession relevant to the
commission”. He did not reply.

So, in early 2009, it wrote to current nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe
Leanza, (in situ since April 2008), enclosing a draft of its report
for comment. He did not reply.

The nunciature in Dublin has been the conduit for truthful clerical
child abuse reports to Rome, while Archbishop Leanza was personally
involved in talks which led to Bishop Magee standing aside at Cloyne
in February 2009. So, the Murphy commission asked him to “submit to it
any information which you have about the matters under investigation”.
He felt “unable to assist” it “in this matter”.

So, Rome is miffed? So . . .?