Self Serving & Legalistic

It is hard to avoid the sense that the Vatican is still more concerned with avoiding any admission of legal responsibility than with the anger, confusion and sadness of the faithful. To a moral and spiritual crisis, it has given only a bureaucratic, self-serving and legalistic response ... The most notable aspect of the Vatican statement is what it does not contain: any substantial reflection on the Cloyne report itself. While declaring itself ‘sorry and ashamed’ for the suffering of victims, it expresses neither sorrow nor shame for the systematic covering up of abuse by church authorities - Irish Times editorial

The Vatican’s response to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s scathing criticism of the Rome based corporation for its involvement in cover up of child abuse has come at last. Part of a poorly coordinated two step with Bishop John Magee’s managed but weak interview with RTE, the Vatican chose Federico Lombardi to deliver it without much reference to the fact that he has been a sandbag to Ratzinger for years, not merely in relation to Ireland. Earlier Lombardi had fallen foul of Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore who accused him of using noise to mask the issue.

This time the Vatican was unable to delay its response and drag matters out for aeons. Gilmore had already warned ‘this is not something that is going to be put on the long finger.’ Although it might be felt in some circles that the Vatican response was one of the finger, long or short.

Patsy McGarry tersely summed up that response. It took ‘25 pages and 11,000 words to say – “nothing to do with us”.' Surprise, surprise. It after all is the institutional embodiment of Christ, and Christ cannot ever be wrong.  Not that Christ would recognise anybody other than Pharisees in the Vatican were he to appear today.  And OJ Pope, like Simpson before him, is hell bent on denying the obvious.  Anybody still fooled by it deserves to be.

The Vatican unabashedly has with ‘the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer’ served up the same old, same old.  What lies at the heart of Enda Kenny’s critique is a 1997 letter from the then papal nuncio, Archbishop Luciano Storero, to the Irish Bishops Conference in January 1997. That letter described the Irish Church’s Framework document on child protection as “merely a study document” which had the potential to be both “highly embarrassing and detrimental”.  Any criticisms made on the basis of the letter, the Vatican assured all, were because of our subjective reading. Mere mortals are not equipped with the infallibility that would make such a reading objective. Only the men of god come divinely equipped with that spiritual faculty.

Nothing from the Vatican goes anywhere near refuting the case as laid out by Gilmore in July when Lombardi had been parroting on about objectivity:

And the objective facts are children were abused in the care of the church. The objective fact is it was covered up and not reported ... and the objective fact is the Vatican interfered in the affairs of this country and the way in which that was being dealt with by church people who were under the influence of the Vatican and under their regime. That’s an objective fact, and I want responses to those objective facts.

An Irish Times editorial argued that ‘Irish Catholics, and citizens in general, had a right to expect much more from an institution that sets itself up as the ultimate arbiter of spiritual and moral truth than some effective debating points.’ In his retort to the Vatican response Gilmore showed little patience for debating points or nitpicking and accused the Church leadership of missing the real point which is:

there was the most horrific sexual abuse of children perpetrated by clerics. The Catholic Church did not deal with that as it should have dealt with it. Let’s not be distracted. Let’s not miss the point – no less charges were made. The Taoiseach and the Government stand over what was said.

Indeed they should. It would be a gross abandonment of of those raped and tortured by the Church was the government to fold on the matter and leave vulnerable children to the tender mercy of the men of god.

Ultimately, the Vatican response permeates throughout with the ethos of the Church dealing with allegations of child abuse ‘in harmony with canonical procedures.’ The point needs to be made forcefully that canon law is a set of in house club rules with no relevance to the outside world. Harmony with canon law is not what the victims of clerical abuse need. The complete disavowal of canon law as a means to address clerical abuse of children is more in line with what is required.


  1. Whats the difference between a priest and my dog? when I put a collar on my dog he doesnt start molesting children....Religion is like a penis,its ok to have one,its ok to be proud of it,but its not ok to wave it around in public,loudly proclaiming its the only one or the best one,and its definitely not ok to ram it down anyones throat who didnt ask for it ..

  2. Was any IRA member buried without the full rites of the catholic church ? All of the hunger strikers had full funerals, republicans who criticise the catholic church forget that the IRA was 99% catholic.Nobody was brave enough to depart this earth without Fr Joe and his prayer book droning on and on .Unionists were right about Rome rule.Crazily high birth rate and rampant dole queues.

  3. Kieran,

    Brian Keenan is the only one who comes to mind.

    'republicans who criticise the catholic church forget that the IRA was 99% catholic.'

    Doesn't invalidate the criticisms of the Catholic Church.

    Fr Joe and his prayer book, I can assure you, will play no role in my departure!

  4. Kieran-

    " Unionists were right about rome rule " that is still being argued about- Unionists were not right about brit rule so they were not that perfect-

    There was a IRA volunteer killed in derry city in the 70s who was protestant so he never got a catholic funeral- myself- i seen no difference between catholic or protestant Volunteers-

    Inla leader Gino Gallaghers coffin never went near a catholic chapel for his funeral- again that was his choice- there were also IRA volunteers who had it in there wills that the Irish flag had to be on their coffin during their funeral mass- i lot of people made there choice for life and death-

  5. Michaelhenry,

    never thought of that Protestant volunteer

  6. I rang psf hq today Bob doh Brains answered, I asked him for a copy of their manifesto, "doh sorry we,ve sold out" he replied..

  7. Anthony, Marty, John McGirr!hehe, Fionnuala etc Hi I have finished me monstrosity painting titled Vomit on the Vatican by an Ex Catholic. Just click on my name to go thru to blog post & view.
    Note: I am not a professional artist - i just paint always have. Anthony u r so welcome to reproduce any of the montage here and Go raibh mile maith agat for all u have done in giving voice to the corruption/games etc of the Vatican. Slan mary PS marty i didnt put carrots in the sockets of the skeletons (ur comment made me laugh heaps) but added orange puke color over the vomit ahaha

  8. SMH,

    thanks fo giving us the heads up. Is there any in particular that you would like us to feature?

  9. SMH,

    on second thoughts we shall try to carry the whole montage and your commentary if we can manage the technical end