Not since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the Cathedral door, has such a broadside hit the Vatican.  A broadside launched by the catholic Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, on the floor of the Irish Parliament.

Here is the context.

In 1996 the Irish Catholic  bishops signed an agreement to begin reporting suspected cases of child abuse to the police..

The following year the Papal Nuncio to Ireland wrote a confidential letter to all the bishops pointing  Roman canon  law trumped Irish state law.

When a further investigation  published last week showing multiple cases of preistly sex abuse in County Cork, the Irish government was outraged.

In full-throated anger, Prime Minister Kenny told Parliament, “This  is not Rome.  This is he Republic of Ireland, 2011,  a republic of laws.”  Kenny was just getting started:  He denounced what he called “the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism — and the narcissism – that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

He said the church’s leaders had repeatedly sought to defend heir instiutions at the expense of children and “to parse and analyze” every revelation of church cover-up of crimes “with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”

Kenny said canon law had “neither legitimacy nor a place in the affairs of this country

Ireland’s foreign minister called in the pope’s ambassador and demanded an official response from the Vatican.  So far none has been forthcoming.This is the toughest  attack on theVatican from another sovereign state   in my lifetime.

Was it deserved?

What do you think?


  1. It was definitely well deserved.

  2. 2

    Absolutely, it was deserved! And Canon law does NOT “trump” state law in ANY country!

    A few years ago, I had a very interesting conversation with the head of the Societies Act — that branch of government that oversees and controls the licensing of things like corporations, societies, registered groups of all kinds. I was jumping through the usual hoops to register a religious society, and I happened to mention that it’s a good thing for the Catholic Church that they don’t have to adhere to all these rules.

    But, oh! yes! they do! All religions do! Every single church or other religious group in every province in Canada is governed by the Societies Act in that province! They operate strictly by permission! They have guidelines they must follow, and if they stray from their allowed boundaries, they can have their charter yanked and the government can close them down.

    Vatican spokesmen keep forgetting that they are guests in the countries in which they have built churches. And guests do not go about telling the host how to run his own house.

  3. 3

    This reminds me of a film from 2002 that I saw called “The Magdalene Sisters” which is about an institution where pregnant or misbehaving female Irish teenagers used to be send…and the horrible conditions prevailing there.

    But what struck me about the history of those places — assuming the story line is to be believed — was how the Church’s laws and policies trumped Irish law. The comments Neil reproduced from the Irish PM reminded me of this very thing.

    Anyway, for those interested, youtube has the entire movie (in 10 parts) online:

  4. 4
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I hav

  5. 5
    Neil McKenty Says:

    There are now senior politicians in Irelan d who are seriously talking about breaking off relations with the Vatican, closing the Vatican Embassy in Dublin, and introducing a bill that would force priests to notify the authorities if they were told about sexual abuxe in the confessional.

  6. 6

    Did I not recently see a news story that revolved around a signed agreement among bishops and priests in Ireland to report any suspected sexual abuse cases based on what they heard in the confessional? Where did that story go?

  7. 7

    Any agreement with the Catholic church is like the fox guarding the hen house.
    Why an agreement with them would be credible at any time is beyond belief.
    Of course Irish law trumps Canon law, EXCEPT among followers of the Catholic church, who chose to believe otherwise.

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