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Denying claims

September 3, 2011

Earlier this summer an official report in Ireland found the Vatican had tried to block authorities from investigating sexual abuse cases. On Saturday, a month and a half later, the Catholic church struck back.

a priest in a church, holding a bible
The Vatican acknowledged it had made some mistakesImage: picture-alliance / ANP

The Vatican on Saturday vehemently denied claims that it had tried to sabotage investigations into sexual abuse cases in southern Ireland.

In a long-awaited response to an official report that outraged the Dublin government, the Vatican said: "The Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into child sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne."

However, the Vatican acknowledged "grave failures" over its handling of the sexual abuse scandal and expressed its "abhorrence for the crimes of sexual abuse which took place in that diocese."

The Cloyne report, released in July, condemned the Catholic church's handling of abuse claims against 19 clerics in Cloyne between 1996 and 2009, labeling its actions "inadequate and inappropriate."

In its Saturday statement, the Vatican called the conclusions in the Cloyne report "unfounded," saying they were based on an incorrect reading of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing "serious reservations" about the Irish bishops' 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

The Vatican response noted that at the time of that letter, Irish law did not require professionals to report suspected abuse to police.

"Given that the Irish government of the day decided not to legislate on the matter, it is difficult to see how [the Vatican's] letter to the Irish bishops, which was issued subsequently, could possibly be constructed as having somehow subverted Irish law or undermined the Irish state in its efforts to deal with the problem in question," the Vatican said.

The findings of the Cloyne report sparked unprecedented ire from Dublin and a speech from Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, in which he cited the report as evidence of the "dysfunction, the disconnection, the elitism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day."

Author: David Levitz (AFP, AP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer