Jul 30, 2011

Irish Ambassador Headed for Prague

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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As discussed, the relationship between Irish lawmakers and the Vatican have become so toxic that the Vatican withdrew its ambassador. Now comes news that Archbishop Leanza will be moved to Prague.

The Vatican has made a first move towards restoring relationships with Ireland and transferred Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza to the Czech Republic.

Leanza is seen as damaged after the Cloyne report crisis over sex abuse was allowed to occur on his watch and ineptly handled.

So once again, the Church is trying to defuse a sex abuse scandal with a game of rotating priests. And civil authorities are left staring into the gaping maw of an opaque and inscrutable bureaucracy.

The Irish government will also be waiting until the middle of next month for a Vatican response to the Cloyne Report.

The reply was initially scheduled for delivery next week but in the wake of the Taoiseach’s outspoken criticism of the Vatican in the Dáil and the subsequent recall to Rome of the papal nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, it has been decided more time is needed.

Holy See sources acknowledged that the writing of this reply will be an extremely “delicate” business. A sharp, pithy response would run the risk of the Holy See being criticised for not taking the Irish problem sufficiently seriously. On the other hand, a point-by-point analysis of all the issues raised in the report, which runs to 421 pages, could take years.

The Holy See would prefer to remain silent and issue no further statements.

. . .

“The Irish Government has asked for a response,” said a senior Holy See figure. “We respect all governments, so the Irish will get a response.”
[emphasis added]

So the Vatican will deign to respond to charges that it obstructed civil investigations into the sexual abuse of children. It took me several readings and a little time to absorb that. Were the Irish government not stridently demanding a response, the Vatican would think it perfectly acceptable to just blow the whole thing off.

There are other indications that the Vatican will not be conceding to any culpability in the numerous cases of unreported abuse, either.

THE papal nuncio is set to deliver a strong response to the Cloyne Report before the end of August, rebuffing the Taoiseach's accusation the Vatican undermined child protection guidelines.

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza will present the Vatican's response to Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore.

. . .

The Vatican has been exasperated by reports claiming Archbishop Leanza was being moved to Prague in the Czech Republic as a mark of his disfavour with his superiors in Rome.

But sources in the Vatican last night suggested that Archbishop Leanza will leave Ireland at the end of the year as part of routine changes.

In other words, move along, folks. Nothin' to see here.

They also intend to put blame on the "weakness of Irish state monitoring of child abuse." Never mind that such monitoring has been made extremely difficult because of a shroud of secrecy imposed by highly placed Church leaders who don't agree or comply with reporting rules.

Almost lost in the drama of a row made very public by the Prime Minister Kenny's remarks, are hints that Ireland is in the throes of a seismic shift in its relationship with the Roman Church.

It was the first time in the past 17 years of pedophile-priest scandals in Ireland that parliamentarians have taken on the Vatican rather than local church leaders. Revelations of widespread abuse have eroded Catholic authority in a nation where the church still owns most schools and several hospitals, and state broadcasters still toll a twice-daily call to Catholic prayer.

A confidential 1997 Vatican letter — originally published by The Associated Press in January — instructed Irish bishops to handle child-abuse cases strictly under terms of canon law. It warned bishops that their 1996 child-protection policy, particularly its emphasis on the need to start reporting all suspected crimes to police, violated canon law.

Kenny said Catholic canon law had "neither legitimacy nor (a) place in the affairs of this country." He pledged to press ahead with new laws making it a crime to withhold evidence of child abuse — even if the information was attained during a priest's confession. The Catholic Church insists that the contents of confessions must never be revealed.

For the very Catholic country, such bold moves toward secularity must come as a shock to the Vatican. Most stunning is the possibility of laws that would breach the confessional. The Vatican's response will reportedly include insistence that the seal of the confessional is "sacrosanct."

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