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Kenny’s Vatican speech creates a stir

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Kenny’s Vatican speech creates a stir


Edwin McGreal

Enda Kenny’s speech last Wednesday criticising the role of the Vatican in the handling of abuse scandals in Ireland made news all over the world. Fall-out from the Cloyne Report, published earlier this month, combined with the Taoiseach’s speech last week has led to yesterday’s (Monday) decision by the Vatican to recall the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, to Rome, the latest development in the saga.
The speech given by Enda Kenny has reverberated worldwide with the reaction largely positive.
The New York Times described it as a ‘rare denunciation of the Holy See’s influence in this predominantly Catholic country’ while in the UK, The Guardian said the following: ‘what makes the verbal sortie on the Vatican so groundbreaking is that it is a Fine Gael taoiseach, whose political base lies in the conservative west of Ireland, who has led from the front’.
But there has been criticism too. Irish religious columnist David Quinn described it as the ‘most aggressive and polemical attack on the Holy See by any Western leader in many years’ while some Catholic observers felt that the speech ignored the part the State played in abuse cases in Ireland.
One well-known Mayo priest-sociologist admitted that he had major reservations.
“Enda Kenny’s comments haven’t been universally welcomed by the clergy and the comments are grossly unjust to the church as a whole. The State is responsible for so much more cases of abuse than the church yet there was no recognition of this in his speech. So many priests have done and continue to do so much good work but this wasn’t acknowledged in the speech or isn’t acknowledged in general by the Irish media.”