Irish Foreign Minister Rebukes Papal Ambassador Over Sexual Abuse Cases

Posted July 14th, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Ireland Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore met with Vatican ambassador Giuseppe Leanza Thursday, a day after a government-sponsored report condemned the country's Roman Catholic Church for its inadequate response to allegations of the sexual abuse of children.

Gilmore rebuked the papal ambassador for the Vatican's behavior in the case and Leanza said he was “very distressed” by the failure to protect children within the church. He said he would bring a copy of the report to the attention of the Vatican.

Wednesday's report by an independent commission said the Catholic clergy of the rural Cloyne diocese in southern Ireland largely ignored claims of molestation, rape and beating of children by members of the church made between 1996 and 2009. It also said that high-ranking clergy helped conceal the abuse.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald stressed that the abuse allegations were covered up long after the church pledged to report all such cases.

Gilmore accused the Vatican of instructing bishops not to report abuse cases to the authorities because it would undermine the church's canon law. Former bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, offered an apology Wednesday for failing to firmly implement church procedures on reporting abuse. He resigned last year after a church-led investigation determined that his handling of abuse allegations had exposed children to risk.

The Vatican had no comment on the report, which is the Irish government's fourth fact-finding probe in recent years on the church's sex abuse scandal.

Catholics in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have demanded church accountability for the abuses, which began coming to light eight years ago in the United States and later became apparent in Europe.

Victims have accused the church hierarchy of failing for decades to punish errant priests.