4 Sep 2011

Vatican denies abuse cover-up claims

6:32 am on 4 September 2011

The Vatican has strongly rejected accusations that it sabotaged attempts by Irish bishops to report paedophile priests to the police.

It follows a report that showed allegations of clerical sex abuse in Cork had been covered up, the BBC reports.

Irish prime minister Enda Kenny had denounced the Catholic Church in July for its handling of such cases.

In a 24-page response to the allegations, the Vatican said it was sorry and ashamed over the scandal but said his claims were unfounded.

"The Holy See... in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne."

"Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties."

Mr Kenny had told the Irish parliament in July that the Cloyne Report into how allegations of sex abuse by priests were covered up showed that change was urgently needed.

He accused the Catholic Church of putting its reputation ahead of child rape victims.

Parliament then passed a motion deploring the Holy See for undermining child protection frameworks, after a letter to Irish bishops appeared to diminish Irish guidelines on reporting sex abuse.

But the Vatican said Mr Kenny's accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter.