22 July 2011

I can't believe I'm having to talk about Cloyne for a fourth time...

Fanciful and disingenuous nonsense in the editorial of today's Irish Times, unfortunately, showing -- if there could be any doubt -- that our so-called 'paper of record' has no interest in the truth where the Catholic Church is concerned.

Here's a letter on the letters page, to begin with, raising what I believe are pertinent points:
'It is disappointing to see The Irish Times reporting the Taoiseach’s speech on the Cloyne report without noting how, in claiming that the Vatican has attempted within the last three years to frustrate an inquiry into Irish abuse, he appears to have misled the Dáil.
The report states that the nuncio said – correctly – that the nunciature does not deal with abuse cases, and that the diocese would have all the relevant information and was obliged to comply with national laws and regulations. The report states the diocese handed over everything of relevance, including privileged communications. How can this be construed as a failure to co-operate with the inquiry, let alone an attempt to frustrate it? 
Even the Vatican’s now notorious 1997 “intervention”, as the Tánaiste has described it, was nothing of the sort. The report attests that it was a response to the bishops’ request that their agreed guidelines should be made binding. The Vatican refused, explaining that the guidelines could conflict with canon law, such that any abusive priest found guilty under them could potentially and successfully appeal to Rome on procedural grounds. It is hard to see how its insistence that canon law procedures should be “meticulously followed” could be construed as an encouragement to those who were determined to avoid enforcing the church’s rules. 
The report recognises the church’s child protection policies are far superior to those of the State. It shows, however, that such policies are worthless if those tasked with implementing them are unwilling to do so. 
The Cloyne report is a damning indictment of John Magee and Denis O’Callaghan, but it reveals little about the modern Irish church'
You'll note that the privileged communications Cloyne handed over to Judge Murphy included all relevant ones passed on to Rome.  Again, Murphy explicity says that she was given everything.

And how does the paper's editorial respond to such points, raised even by the Pope's official spokesman?
'And what of the charges to which the Vatican must respond? Over the top, as some apologists suggest? Mr Kenny did not elaborate beyond the claim that the Cloyne report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry”, clearly a reference to the snubbing of the Dublin commission by Rome, and the subsequent outright refusal of the papal nuncio to assist the Cloyne commission. The nunciature “does not determine the handling of cases of sexual abuse in Ireland and therefore is unable to assist you in this matter,” Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza had written disingenuously. 
That non-co-operation was profoundly obstructive and certainly not peripheral to the inquiries’ remit. The opening of the files in Rome would have demonstrated – will yet demonstrate – the deeply embarrassing reality that the Vatican, at all stages, has had a far greater and earlier knowledge of the detail and scope of priestly abuse than the appropriate agencies of the State, and just how little it did about it. Hence Mr Kenny’s assertion that “the rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.” 
And the silence was not just about avoiding such revelations, but driven by what Mr Kenny calls the “gimlet eye” of lawyers. It was an essential element of the Vatican’s worldwide twin-pronged legal strategy to avoid civil litigation. On the one hand it rests behind the dubious diplomatic principle – particularly in the context of the Vatican – of sovereign immunity, the idea that a state can do no wrong. On the other, on the repeated, fictional assertion that the Vatican plays no part in handling abuse. 
The undermining of the work of an official inquiry into such serious matters is not the act of a friendly state. Mr Kenny has every right to point it out, and forcefully.'
It's bizarre to learn that the editor of Ireland's supposed newspaper of record can't read.  So the Taoiseach's claim that the Cloyne report 'exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry' is 'clearly a reference to the snubbing of the Dublin commission by Rome', is it? Let's look at what Enda said again, shall we:
'It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order. Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.'
Yes, that's right. Enda says that Cloyne is 'different' from the Dublin report, because 'for the first time', he said, it exposed an attempt by the Vatican to frustrate an investigation carried out by the Irish State. In other words, whatever he meant, he clearly wasn't talking about Yvonne Murphy's investigation into how the Archdiocese of Dublin had handled abuse allegations between 1975 and 2004. The Taoiseach was quite explicit about that.

What of 'the subsequent outright refusal of the papal nuncio to assist the Cloyne commission'? Well, we know what happened there, as is described in the letter or, if you're interested, in section 1.15 of the Cloyne Report. Judge Murphy wrote to Archbishop Leanza in 2009, asking for the Nuncio to submit any papers the Nunciature had about the matters under investigation, and the Nuncio replied saying that he had no such papers as the Nuncio doesn't deal with such matters. He explained that the Diocese of Cloyne would have dealt with these matters and was obliged to comply with all civil laws and regulations, and as the Report recognises at section 1.16, the Diocese did just that, handing over all relevant documentation, including copies of all relevant privileged communications. Doesn't this strike you as vastly more helpful than the behaviour of the previous Nuncio in connection with the request about the Dublin archdiocese, him not even having replied to Judge Murphy's request? The Report doesn't even once criticise the current Nuncio. Not once.

The claim that the Church repeatedly and falsely claims that the Vatican has no part in handling abuse allegations is, of course, a complete lie. The Report merely records the Nuncio as saying that the Nunciature doesn't handle such allegations, which is correct. But don't believe me. Just go back to the Cloyne Report and read it for yourself. Look up every reference in it to 'Rome', 'Vatican', 'Nuncio', and so forth. Do you see even a hint of criticism -- the slightest insinuation -- that Judge Murphy and her sidekicks believed their work had been hampered in any way by the Nuncio's response? And do you not think there might have been something there if Judge Murphy had genuinely felt that the Nuncio or the Vatican had indeed been 'profoundly obstructive', as today's lurid editorial puts it?

No, this isn't about protecting children. It's about distracting people from the economy and the health service, and it's about selling newspapers. That's all.

In 2002 a huge national survey found that one in 240 Irish adults had been sexually abused by a religious minister, and that more than one in four had been abused by somebody else. This kind of shouting achieves nothing. We have huge problems in Ireland, and they'll not be solved by shouting at other people. We need to turn the mirror on ourselves.

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