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Vatican was ready to cooperate with abuse inquiry, former Irish premier reveals

Catholic World News - September 12, 2011

The Vatican showed a willingness to cooperate with commission investigating sexual abuse in the Irish Church, the former Taoiseach (prime minister) revealed.

The current Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has loudly denounced the Holy See for interfering in Ireland’s own affairs. When asked to clarify that criticism, the government said that Kenny was referring to the Vatican’s refusal to provide information for the Murphy Commission, which was investigating abuse complaints in the Dublin archdiocese.

But Brian Cowen, who headed the Irish government in 2009, reported that the Vatican had shown a willingness to respond to the Murphy Commission’s inquiries. When first approached, the Vatican said that any such questions should be routed through normal diplomatic channels, in accordance with ordinary protocol in dealings between sovereign powers. However, Cowen said, the Vatican ambassador in Ireland took pains to say that the Murphy Commission should be apprised of this official response, “to avoid any impression that the correspondence from the commission had been ignored.”

The Murphy Commission chose not to re-submit its questions to Rome through the Irish foreign ministry. Commission members explained that it would be improper to seek the government’s cooperation, since they were charged with conducting an independent probe and were examining the government’s policies as well as those of the Catholic Church. An impasse resulted, and the commission’s inquiries were never answered.

(In the Irish Times story on Cowen’s disclosure, the headline is completely at odds with the contents of the news account.)

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