Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rome Responds to the Cloyne Report and related events: "the Church has always insisted on the duty of all citizens to obey the just laws of the State"

Some brief excerpts:

3. Response to the Tánaiste’s accusations and to the Dáil and Seanad motions

In his meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Eamon Gilmore, stated that "among the most disturbing of the findings of the Cloyne report is that the Vatican authorities undermined the Irish Church’s own efforts to deal with clerical child sexual abuse by describing the framework document adopted by the Bishops’ Conference as a mere ‘study document’. As has been made clear above, this charge is not supported by an objective reading of the Cloyne Report nor by the fact that the common practice of the Irish Bishops was to apply the Framework Document. Furthermore, given that the Church has always insisted on the duty of all citizens to obey the just laws of the State (cf. Romans 13:1-2; Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1897-1904; 2238-2243), the Holy See does not accept the charge that "the Vatican intervened to effectively have priests believe they could in conscience evade their responsibilities under Irish law."

On 20 July 2011, the Dáil passed a motion on the Cloyne Report which, among other things, deplored "the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish State and the Irish Bishops". The same motion was passed by Seanad Éireann a week later. The Holy See wishes to clarify that at no stage in the past did it make any comment about the Irish State’s child protection framework and guidelines, let alone seek to undermine them. The Holy See further observes that there is no evidence cited anywhere to support the claim that its "intervention" contributed to their "undermining". As for the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish Bishops, the observations made above should suffice to dispel the notion that these were in any way undermined by any intervention of the Holy See.

9. Concluding remarks

When he met with the Irish Bishops on the occasion of their ad limina visit on 28 October 2006, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his concern about child sexual abuse: "In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric. The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged. In your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem, it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes."

The publication of the Cloyne Report marks a further stage in the long and difficult path of ascertaining the truth, of penance and purification, and of healing and renewal of the Church in Ireland. The Holy See does not consider itself extraneous to this process but shares in it in a spirit of solidarity and commitment.

In a spirit of humility, the Holy See, while rejecting unfounded accusations, welcomes all objective and helpful observations and suggestions to combat with determination the appalling crime of sexual abuse of minors. The Holy See wishes to state once again that it shares the deep concern and anxiety expressed by the Irish authorities, by Irish citizens in general and by the Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of Ireland with regard to the criminal and sinful acts of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and religious. It also recognizes the understandable anger, disappointment and sense of betrayal of those affected – particularly the victims and their families – by these vile and deplorable acts and by the way in which they were sometimes handled by Church authorities, and for all of this it wishes to reiterate its sorrow for what happened. It is confident that the measures which the Church has introduced in recent years at a universal level, as well as in Ireland, will prove more effective in preventing the recurrence of these acts and will contribute to the healing of those who suffered abuse and to the restoration of mutual confidence and collaboration between Church and State authorities, which is essential for the effective combating of the scourge of abuse. Naturally, the Holy See is well aware that the painful situation to which the episodes of abuse have given rise cannot be resolved swiftly or easily, and that although much progress has been made, much remains to be done.

Since the early days of the Irish State and especially since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1929, the Holy See has always respected Ireland’s sovereignty, has maintained cordial and friendly relations with the country and its authorities, has frequently expressed its admiration for the exceptional contribution of Irish men and women to the Church’s mission and to the betterment of peoples throughout the world, and has been unfailing in its support of all efforts to promote peace on the island during the recent troubled decades. Consistent with this attitude, the Holy See wishes to reaffirm its commitment to constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Irish Government, naturally on the basis of mutual respect, so that all institutions, whether public or private, religious or secular, may work together to ensure that the Church and, indeed, society in general will always be safe for children and young people.

For the full text of the document RESPONSE TO MR EAMON GILMORE, TÁNAISTE AND MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE OF IRELAND, CONCERNING THE CLOYNE REPORT , 03.09.2011 at Vatican.va click here.

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