Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ireland “caved” to Vatican on sex abuse; SNAP responds

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

These troubling revelations diminish both Irish and Vatican officials. It’s of course shameful that church figures refused to even answer questions about devastating, decades-long child sex crimes and cover ups. But it’s equally shameful that Irish officials “caved” to pressure from self-serving Catholic bureaucrats who wanted, and still want, to keep this horrific scandal under wraps.

This unwarranted deference by secular authorities to church authorities is a key reason that tens of thousands of children across the globe have been sexually assaulted for decades by child molesting Catholic clerics. If kids are to be safe and crimes are to be prevented, police, prosecutors and politicians must pursue those who commit and conceal child sex crimes, no matter who they are or what titles they have.

Keep in mind what Irish authorities sought – not money or jail time or concessions or reforms, just simple answers to questions about this crisis by church officials. That’s all. Still, the Vatican was intransigent and refused, and Irish officials backed down. So top Catholic staff learned an unhealthy lesson here – if you are belligerent enough, this pesky sex abuse scandal can be postponed and ignored even longer.

No “behind the scenes diplomatic maneuvering” should have been required here. And when that failed, Irish officials should have “gone public” and done everything in their power to compel Catholic officials to cooperate. Justice would have been better served had Irish official found the courage to publicly and vigorously fight against Vatican intransigence. And doing so would have done a public service, by further exposing the recalcitrance of the rigid, ancient, secretive, all-male church hierarchy.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Cables Show Ireland Ceded to Vatican Pressure

Leaked cables show Ireland caved in to Vatican pressure in clergy sex abuse probe

By FRANCES D'EMILIO Associated Press VATICAN CITY December 11, 2010 (AP)

Newly released U.S. diplomatic cables indicate that Ireland caved in to Vatican pressure to grant immunity to church officials in the government probe of decades of sex abuse by Irish clergy in the predominantly Catholic nation.

That the Holy See used its diplomatic immunity status as a tiny-city state to try to thwart Ireland's government-led probe has long been known. But the WikiLeaks cables, published by Britain's The Guardian newspaper on Saturday, contain delicate, behind-the-scenes diplomatic assessments of the highly charged situation.

The Vatican press office declined to comment on the content of the cables Saturday, but decried the leaks as a matter of "extreme gravity."

The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See also condemned the leaks and said in a statement that the Vatican and American cooperate in promoting universal values.

According to the deputy to the Irish ambassador to the Holy See, the Irish government gave in to Vatican pressure and granted church officials immunity in exchange for testifying, according to one of the cables from a U.S. diplomat.

Ambassador Noel Fahey apparently told U.S. diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes that the sex abuse scandal was a tricky one to manage.

The Irish government wanted to be seen as cooperating with the investigation because its own education department was implicated in decades of abuse, but politicians were reluctant to insist Vatican officials answer the investigators' questions, the cables indicate.

One cable discloses the behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuvers during which Irish politicians tried to persuade the Vatican to cooperate with the probe.

Saturday's Vatican press official statement said the WikiLeaks cables should be evaluated with "reservations" and "prudence," and not be taken as an "expression" of the Holy See.

The cables also contain information regarding the Vatican's relations with the Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of England and its affiliates in more than 160 countries.

WikiLeaks cables: Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

Leaked cable lays bare how Irish government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying to Murphy commission

The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating the clerical abuse of children and was angered when they were summoned from Rome, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks reveal.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy "offended many in the Vatican" who felt that the Irish government had "failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations", a cable says.

Despite the lack of co-operation from the Vatican, the commission was able to substantiate many of the claims and concluded that some bishops had tried to cover up abuse, putting the interests of the Catholic church ahead of those of the victims. Its report identified 320 people who complained of child sexual abuse between 1975 and 2004 in the Dublin archdiocese.

A cable entitled "Sex abuse scandal strains Irish-Vatican relations, shakes up Irish church, and poses challenges for the Holy See" claimed that Vatican officials also believed Irish opposition politicians were "making political hay" from the situation by publicly urging the government to demand a reply from the Vatican.

Ultimately, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (equivalent to a prime minister), wrote to the Irish embassy, ordering that any requests related to the investigation must come through diplomatic channels.

In the cable Noel Fahey, the Irish ambassador to the Holy See, told the US diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes that the Irish clergy sex abuse scandal was the most difficult crisis he had ever managed.

The Irish government wanted "to be seen as co-operating with the investigation" because its own education department was implicated, but politicians were reluctant to press Vatican officials to answer the investigators' queries.

According to Fahey's deputy, Helena Keleher, the government acceded to Vatican pressure and granted them immunity from testifying. Officials understood that "foreign ambassadors are not required or expected to appear before national commissions", but Keleher's opinion was that by ignoring the commission's requests the clergy had made the situation worse.

The cable reveals the behind-the-scenes diplomacy in which politicians in the Irish government attempted to persuade an imperious Vatican to engage with the investigation.

The foreign minister, Michael Martin, "was forced to call in the papal nuncio (representative)" to discuss the situation. The ambassador reported that resentment towards the church in Rome remained very high in Ireland, largely because of the institutionalised cover-up of abuse by the Catholic church hierarchy.

Finally the Vatican changed tactics and on 11 December 2009 the ambassador stated that the pope had held a meeting with senior Irish clerics. The Irish cardinal Seán Brady and the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, went to Rome and met the pontiff, who was flanked by Bertone and four other cardinals.

At the end of the meeting, the Vatican issued a statement saying that the pope shared the "outrage, betrayal, and shame" of Irish Catholics, that he was praying for the victims, and that the church would take steps to prevent recurrences.

On 21 March this year, Benedict issued a letter savaging the Irish bishops for their earlier handling of the crisis: "Grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness."

He also apologised to the victims: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel."

In a section entitled "Some Lessons Learned, but Crisis Will Play Out for Years", the ambassador related that his contacts at the Vatican and in Ireland expected the crisis in the Irish Catholic church to be protracted over several years, as the Murphy commission dealt only with allegations from the Dublin archdiocese.

They believed further investigations into other archdioceses would lead, "officials in both states lament, to additional painful revelations".

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests