By Douglas Dalby (New York Times)
July 14, 2011
DUBLIN — The Irish government on Thursday demanded that the Vatican respond to the findings of a new report on child sexual abuse in Ireland and warned the Catholic Church that the seal of confession was not an excuse for refusing to provide information to the authorities on abuse cases.
The report, published Wednesday, documented how from 1996 to 2009 the hierarchy in the rural County Cork diocese of Coyne had failed to report numerous accusations of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities, in breach of the church's own guidelines on child protection. It also said the Vatican had tacitly encouraged the cover-up by ignoring the guidelines.
In the wake of the report and after a meeting Thursday in Dublin with the papal envoy Guiseppe Leanza, the deputy prime minister, Eamon Gilmore, said Vatican intervention in Ireland to discourage priests from reporting crimes against children had been "absolutely unacceptable." Mr. Gilmore formally demanded an explanation from the Vatican, and Mr. Leanza said he would bring the report to the attention of the Holy See.
As public outrage across Ireland grows over the report's findings, Prime Minister Enda Kenny warned that new laws would be introduced shortly making it mandatory to report the abuse of children.
Mr. Kenny described the role of the Vatican in the failure to report child abuse to the civil authorities as "absolutely disgraceful" and said the seal of confession should never have been an excuse for nondisclosure.
"The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier or by collar," he told journalists.
Parliament will debate the recent findings, known as the Cloyne report, on Tuesday or Wednesday.
There is increasing pressure from politicians and the Irish media for the bishop at the center of the 341-page report, John Magee, to make a full statement on the accusations in the report. Bishop Magee, the former private secretary to three popes, apologized after the report's publication but did not address the accusations in it.
The report said that the bishop had taken "little interest" in managing accusations of abuse and that he had virtually handed over all responsibility for handling accusations to Msgr. Denis O'Callaghan without providing any supervision of how the monsignor was handling cases.
"The extent of the inertia of the bishop which made these things possible is remarkable," the report said.
The report is the Irish government's fourth in recent years on the scandal. It shows that abuses were occurring and being covered up 13 years after the church in Ireland issued child-protection guidelines in 1996.