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Irish prime minister slams Vatican over child sex abuse

By the CNN Wire Staff
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of not taking adequate steps to deal with child abuse by priests.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of not taking adequate steps to deal with child abuse by priests.
  • Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny criticizes the Vatican after a report into child sex abuse
  • Kenny: "The rape and torture of children were downplayed" to uphold the church's reputation
  • A spokesman for the Vatican defends its actions in Ireland
  • The Cloyne report into claims of abuse by priests was released last week
  • Ireland
  • Enda Kenny
  • Vatican
  • Child Abuse

(CNN) -- Ireland's prime minister has launched a stinging attack on the Vatican, a week after a report said the Catholic Church in Ireland did not take serious steps to stamp out child abuse by priests, even after the scandal blew up worldwide.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the Cloyne report, focused on the area around the southern city of Cork, had exposed the Vatican as seeking to frustrate an inquiry into child sex abuse for its own benefit.

"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation," he told Ireland's lower house of parliament, or Dail, as it debated a motion on the report.

On listening to the evidence of humiliation and betrayal, Kenny said, "The Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer ... this calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded."

The report exposed "a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children," Kenny added, as he praised the courage of the victims of abuse who had spoken out to investigators.

Released July 13, the report into abuses in the diocese of Cloyne demolished claims by the Catholic Church in Ireland that policies it put in place in 1996 had enabled it to get a handle on the problem.

It also accused Bishop John Magee, who was responsible for policing abuse in his diocese, of not backing the policy himself and failing to take action against abusers.

While criticizing the Vatican, Kenny also said the state shared some of the blame for failing to "get its house in order" on child protection.

"For too long Ireland has neglected its children," he said, as he announced moves to introduce new legislation that would put "children first."

The government "awaits the considered response of the Holy See," he said.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, said in a statement Tuesday that some criticisms of the Vatican went too far and "demonstrate little awareness of what the Holy See has actually done over the years to help effectively address the problem."

Referring to a 1997 letter from the Vatican's ambassador to Ireland to Irish bishops, which was highlighted in the report, he said, "There is no reason to interpret that letter as being intended to cover up cases of abuse."

His statement was not the formal Vatican response, he said, which "will be forthcoming in the most appropriate time and manner."

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter called Lombardi's statement "unfortunate and disingenuous" and said he had expected a more formal response from the Vatican.

The 421-page Cloyne report details how complaints against 19 clerics in the diocese were dealt with between 1996 and 2009.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene and journalist Peter Taggart contributed to this report.