In July 2011, the Irish Government released the Cloyne Report, which details laxity on the part of the Catholic Church in investigating claims of paedophilia in the rural diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2009.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister — pronounced ‘teashock’) Enda Kenny, a practising Catholic, said:

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago …

And in doing so, the Cloyne report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism, that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.

The rape and torture of children were downplayed or “managed” to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and “reputation”.’

At the centre of the controversy is retired bishop

John Magee, who had been private secretary to three successive popes – Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.

Bishop Magee retired last year.  The Cloyne Report states that he had:

to a certain extent detached himself from the day to day management of child abuse cases.

The report and the prime minister’s reaction to it has created a real buzz in Ireland.  Many Catholics, like Kenny, want to see this dark chapter in the Church resolved.  However, a number of secularists are  also airing their views.  The Vatican expressed the desire for an ‘objective’ debate on the subject, but as the Telegraph reported on July 25, 2011, recalled the Ambassador to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Papal Nuncio. Emphases mine below.

The recalling of the Nuncio, a measure rarely used by the Holy See, denotes the seriousness of the situation, and the desire of the Holy See to deal with it (with) objectivity and with determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions,’ spokesman, Fr Ciro Benedettini said.

Mr Kenny threw off generations of official Irish obsequiousness to the Vatican in a speech to parliament on the publication of the report.

The Vatican became embroiled in the latest Irish church scandal after revelations about a 1997 letter, from the then Papal Nuncio to Irish bishops, a year after reporting guidelines were enforced to enhance child protection.

The correspondence stated that the bishops policy was “merely a discussion document” and that the Vatican had serious moral and canon reservations about mandatory reporting of clerical abuse.

A number of priests have sent Kenny messages of support after he made his remarks.  Since then, Kenny has said no more publicly, except that he awaits a response from the Vatican.

As one would expect, the aforementioned secularists have grasped the nettle.  Mary Kenny, writing for the Telegraph, tells us that they are

recommending every anti-church measure from the dissolution of the monasteries to the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio and the severing of all links with the Holy See. (The recall of the Papal Nuncio … marks the lowest point of relations between Ireland and Rome.)

One correspondent wrote that it was his ardent hope that the Catholic Church would follow the example of the News of the World, and hold a “last Mass” before shutting down.

Furthermore, the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, is

introducing a highly controversial Bill which will compel Irish priests to disclose the secrets of the confessional where paedophilia is mentioned: failure to do so could result in a five-year prison sentence.

Hmm.  It will be interesting to see how that plays, as the priest is required by Canon law to keep what he hears in Confession a secret.  Shatter is the only Jewish member of Parliament. How Catholic the other members are, I have no idea.

Once again, the question of church versus state arises.  This separation already exists in the United States, France — and Ireland.  The concept is the freedom to practice one’s faith — whatever it is — not, as the secularists wish in each of those countries, to keep it permanently under wraps except in the home and one’s chosen house of worship.

Mary Kenny — no relation to the Taoiseach — explains:

Contrary to supposition … state and Church in Ireland are already separate: the constitution, although it mentions God, makes no mention of the Catholic Church, specifically affirms that there may be no religious discrimination, and rules that no religion may be endowed by the state.

However, there is a difference between state and culture: the state construes laws, but the culture draws on history, memory, family, folklore. Despite constitutional separation of Church and state, there remain religious traditions, such as the broadcast of the Angelus on national radio, the prayers that open Dail sittings, and the existence – even dominance – of faith-based schools, which secularists seek to abolish.

She concludes:

Such sweeping changes could occur in what was once Catholic Ireland: the state could become as secularist as France, with all allusion to the Almighty officially excised. Yet even in France, the holy days continue, with Pentecost and Ascension and All Saints, and Lourdes attracting millions.

In the end, as she says, the Church will prevail:

offering age-old comforts, not of the Vatican, but of the faith.

In my experience, and maybe this is because most of the Irish I know are from Dublin, they left their faith behind a long time ago, probably at university.  It will be interesting to watch developments as they unfold.