The Vatican is shirking its responsibility

The heat is being put on the Vatican to clean out the stables in a peculiarly Irish fashion, where in spite of everything, respect for the niceties still dominates. That at any rate how it seems to this very amateur Vaticanologist. The Taoiseach in a long fuzzy statement has just explained how letters were exchanged in 2006 – 2006! – through diplomatic channels over a request for cooperation with the commission. The Vatican are terribly anxious to have it placed on the record that they replied. But what was the outcome of the reply? Nada. Talk about process and a “hurt” nuncio conceals no progress on substance. The total inadequacy of the Vatican’s response is exposed. Only the Pope can fire a bishop and the Pope is sitting on his hands. According to reports, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gave a remarkable interview on RTE’s Primetime last night. Sparing us all the old elliptical nonsense, he said in terms, that implicated bishops should explain themselves satisfactorily or resign. Good man Diarmuid. “If I am unhappy with answers . . . I don’t want to be sitting at meetings with people who have not responded to a very serious situation. . . Everyone should stand up and take responsibility for what they did.” Only the Vatican can fire a bishop, it seems, although throughout history, rulers could dispose of clerics they disliked pretty smartly, including the Pope himself. As Mick has raised below, is it appropriate today that a centralised body in Rome should exercise so much domestic power and behave like an unaccountable foreign State with all that diplomatic rigmarole in the exercise of that power? The question goes back to the Reformation. In the Irish Times Maureen Gaffney goes on to the next theme, the hypocrisy of the church’s teaching on sex.

..tidying up corporate governance and instituting a more transparent culture is not going to resolve the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. That will require the church to face up to a much more profound problem – the church’s own teaching on sexuality…Richard Sipe is a former priest and a recognised authority on celibacy… On the basis of his research in the US and other countries, he estimates between 45 and 50 per cent of Catholic clergy are sexually active.”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London