David Quinn: Irish Government Is Overreacting

Says There's a Difference Between Criticizing and Bashing

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, JULY 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland lashed out at the Vatican this week in response to the findings of the Cloyne Report, accusing it of, among other things, "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism." The reaction of the leader of the Irish government, according to David Quinn, has been one of "hysteria."

Writing in Friday's Belfast Telegraph, the founder and director of the Iona Institute said that Kenny crossed the line that exists between "necessary and valid criticism of the Church on the one hand, and unrestrained Church-bashing on the other."

Quinn also criticized Kenny's position on requiring priests to break the seal of confession if they learn of child abuse within the sacrament of confession. "Kenny is obviously no anti-Catholic, but he needs to realize that, historically, only the most anti-Catholic societies have ever done such a thing," stated Quinn.

The Catholic commentator summarized the grievances government leaders have against the Church, which boil down to an accusation that the Vatican interfered "in the laws of the Irish state in order to protect the reputation of the Church."

Quinn noted that while the Vatican in 1997 was "excessively concerned about the rights of accused priests," it did not interfere with civil law in Ireland. The Vatican never forbade priests from reporting abuse cases to authorities.

There was an expressed reservation, nonetheless, regarding "mandatory reporting." The columnist pointed out that not even the Irish legislators agreed on mandatory reporting, and that at the time failed to pass a law that would have required it.

Quinn addressed as well the fact that between 1997 and 2011, a major change has taken place in the Vatican that has switched the emphasis from protecting priests to protecting victims, which has been brought about largely by Benedict XVI.

"In its overheated response to the Vatican, the Irish government has made two mistakes," he said. "Firstly, it has misrepresented the 1997 letter as interfering in the laws of the land when it did not. Secondly, it has utterly failed to recognize that the letter, which was biased in favor of the rights of accused priests, does not represent the attitude of the Vatican today."