Vatican Recalls Envoy to Ireland

In a rare move, the Vatican recalled its nuncio to Ireland for consultation and assistance in responding to the Cloyne Report on clerical sexual abuse. Following the July 13 publication of the report, “and, particularly, after the reactions that followed, the secretary of state has recalled the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, for consultations,” the Vatican said in a statement July 25.

The Holy See’s press office said recalling the nuncio “denotes the seriousness of the situation, the desire of the Holy See to face it with objectivity and determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and disappointment” over what were described as “excessive” reactions on the part of people in Ireland. Leanza’s recall is necessary, the Vatican said, because he is “the person on the scene” and thus able to help curial officials craft their response. Reports indicate that the Holy See’s formal reply to the Cloyne Report should be prepared before the end of August.

The report, which examined how the Diocese of Cloyne handled accusations of clerical sexual abuse, said that Bishop John Magee paid “little or no attention” to safeguarding children as recently as 2008, falsely telling the government that his diocese was reporting all allegations of abuse to the civil authorities. The report further alleged that the Vatican was “entirely unhelpful” to Irish bishops who wanted to implement stronger norms for dealing with accusations and protecting children.

Addressing parliament July 20, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago.” In so doing, Kenny continued, the report “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

Subsequently, Kenny told a crowd during a visit to County Donegal he had received “thousands of messages from around the world” supporting his comments. “The numbers of members of the clergy who have been in touch in the last few days, to say it is about time somebody spoke out about these matters in a situation like you are, has astounded me,” Kenny added.

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