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Cables Show Ireland Ceded to Vatican Pressure

St Peter's Square, Vatican City

ABC News reported that 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 would not respond to ABC News requests for comment. The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See said that the Vatican and America cooperate in promoting moral values to the public but went on to condemn the leaks as dangerous.

The leaked cable stated that according to the deputy to the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, the Irish government was pressured by the Vatican to grant church officials immunity. The Irish government eventually gave in to their request saying 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.

The cable showed that Irish politicians tried to persuade the Vatican to cooperate with the probe.

A cable quotes Campbell as saying the move put the Anglican spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, “in an impossible situation.” And he worried that the crisis could aggravate “latent anti-Catholicism” in majority-Protestant England.

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St Peter's Square, Vatican City via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - GNU Free. April 29, 2007

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St Peter's Square, Vatican City via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - GNU Free. April 29, 2007


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