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Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Ireland

The 2011 Cloyne report: Responses to the report.
Potential long-term effects to the Catholic Church

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This essay is a continuation of an earlier report

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Responses to the Cloyne report:

  • The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese said:
    "The narrative set out in the Cloyne report indicates that the leadership of the Catholic Church needs to urgently reflect on how, by coherent and effective action, it can restore public trust and confidence in its stated objective of putting children first."
  • The Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, told the Dáil -- the lower House of the Irish Parliament that:

    "the rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, in power, standing and reputation."

    He said that the Vatican's response to the Cloyne report was the:

    "... polar opposite of the radicalism, the humility and the compassion that the church had been founded on."

  • An all-party motion has been initiated in Parliament that:
    "... deplores the Vatican's intervention which contributed to the undermining of child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish bishops." 1
  • Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that former Bishop Magee's behavior was particularly shocking because of initiatives taken by the Irish Catholic Church to protect children. Ms. Fitzgerald said:

    "That's the most horrifying aspect of this document. This is not a catalog of failure from a different era. This is not about an Ireland of 50 years ago. This is about Ireland now."

  • The deputy editor of the Irish Catholic, Michael Kelly, said:

    "I would expect that the diplomats in the Vatican's secretariat of state will have been extremely surprised by the tone of Enda Kenny's speech in the Dáil, but also by the widespread and positive public reaction to the speech. ... Mr Kenny was, I believe, articulating the sense of exasperation that a lot of Irish people, not least Irish Catholics, have felt for too long about the church's disastrous inability to come to terms with this crisis."
  • Barbara Blaine, the president of the U.S. advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said that the conclusion of the Cloyne report that the Vatican encouraged cover ups:

    "... should surprise no one. A key reason bishops ignore, minimize and hide child sex crimes is because Vatican officials have largely urged, and sometimes insisted, that they do so."

  • The web site, is another U.S. victims' advocacy group. Anne Barrett Doyle, its co-director, said:

    "The Cloyne report is disheartening confirmation that even today, despite the church's knowledge of the profound anguish of thousands of victims, its reform policies are public relations ploys, not true child protection programs."

    "Also disturbingly familiar is today's account of the Vatican's deliberate weakening of the mandatory reporting policy that the Cloyne diocese instituted in 1996. The Vatican similarly undermined the US bishops' attempt in 2002 to mandate reporting of all allegations. The Essential Norms that were promulgated as binding canon law for US dioceses in 2006 omitted the reporting requirement in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, replacing it with the far less stringent provision to merely 'comply with all applicable civil laws'." 5

  • Vatican officials said that they had no immediate response.

  • Vatican Radio did not cover news report about the report on the Diocese of Cloyne.

  • The Vatican recalled Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza -- its ambassador to Dublin -- claiming "excessive reactions" in Ireland to the sex abuse crisis. 6

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Potential long-term effects of the Catholic Church's child abuse revelations:

On 2011-JUL-21, The Guardian newspaper in the UK published a report with a memorable title:

"Irish political classes lose their fear of the Catholic church. Enda Kenny's criticism of the Vatican this week marks a significant milestone on Ireland's journey away from being a mono-Catholic state into a 21st European republic." 7

The article said that Prime Minister:

"Enda Kenny's attack on the Vatican over its handling of yet another clerical child sex abuse scandal in Ireland was indeed truly 'unprecedented.' Even Kenny's Fine Gael, a party with deep roots in rural Catholic Ireland, had lost its fear of the men (they are always men!) who wear red cabs and wield crosiers.

Since the mid 1990s the Catholic church's reputation has been slowly eroding amid a deluge of damaging revelations about its priests, religious orders and the institutions they run. ..."

"It would have been unthinkable even perhaps back in the 1990s for a leader of Fine Gael to go as far as take on the Vatican. But this is exactly what happened this week and it marks a significant, historic milestone on Ireland's journey away from being a mono-Catholic state into a 21st European republic.

Of course Kenny remains a devout Catholic like so many millions of other Irish citizens. However, their faith is for the private sphere by and large. The loss of fear has left the Catholic church, in the main due to their own crimes and their own ham-fisted culture of cover-up, devoid of real political power." 7

On 2011-JUN-02, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of the Diocese of Dublin said:

"Many outside of Ireland still believe that Ireland is a bastion of traditional Catholicism. They are surprised to discover that there are parishes in Dublin where the presence at Sunday Mass is some five percent of the Catholic population and, in some cases, even below two percent. On any particular Sunday about 18 percent of the Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Dublin attends Mass."

The average of 18% is slightly less than the average attendance by Americans at churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. About 40% claim that they attend services, but a count of noses indicates that about half are lying.

Archbishop Martin also mentioned that for the second time since he became archbishop in 2004, there will be no priestly ordinations in 2011, He said: "... the coming years indicate only a tiny trickle of new vocations." 8

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This topic continues with a report on the Church's work houses in Ireland.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Henry McDonald, "Irish prime minister attacks Vatican. Enda Kenny says Cloyne report on child sex abuse by priests highlights dysfunction and elitism in Rome," The Guardian, 2011-JUL-20, at:
  2. Shawn Pogatchnik, "Irish Catholic child abuse report finds church encouraged concealment." Associated Press, published by the Globe and Mail. 2011-JUL-13, at:
  3. "The 1997 letter: Vatican message sent to Irish church," Associated Press, published by The Globe and Mail on 2011-JAN-18 at:
  4. "The Cloyne report - main findings," Irish Times, 2011-JUL-13, at:
  5. Dennis Coday, "Reactions to the Cloyne report," National Catholic Reporter, 2011-JUL-14, at:
  6. Henry McDonald, "Vatican recalls ambassador after Irish PM's comments on sex abuse row," The Guardian, 2011-JUL-25, at:
  7. Henry McDonald, "Irish political classes lose their fear of the Catholic church," Guardian, 2011-JUL-21, at:
  8. "Ireland no longer a ‘bastion of Catholicism’." Catholic Anchor Online, undated, at:

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 Home page > Religious Info. > Basic info > Clergy abuse > Ireland > here

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Copyright 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUL-28
Latest update: 2011-JUL-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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