Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Papal envoy denies contempt claim

The inquiry found Church authorities had covered up child abuse

The pope's ambassador to Ireland has denied that he showed contempt for an official inquiry into clerical child abuse in Dublin, a newspaper has said.

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, who took up office as the Irish papal nuncio in April last year, failed to respond to a request from the Murphy inquiry.

Dr Leanza said the Irish government-ordered inquiry did not go through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

He told Tuesday's Irish Times that his actions could not be taken as contempt.

'Very sorry'

The papal nuncio told the paper that he was aware of public anger in Ireland following last week's publication of the Murphy report, also known as the "Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin".

It found the the hierarchy of Irish Catholic Church had covered up clerical child abuse for decades and had allowed perpetrators to continue to commit their crimes by moving them from parish to parish when complaints were made.

Responding to the damning findings, Dr Leanza said: "Do I understand the reaction of the Irish people? Absolutely. We are really very sorry for what has happened. This should never happen again in the future."

William Crawley blogs on the church abuse scandal

The Irish Times reported that earlier this year, the Murphy inquiry sent the papal nuncio extracts of its draft report which referred to him and his office, and asked him to respond to the contents.

Dr Leanza said that he did not comply with the request because the extracts referred to events which happened before he came to office.

"Since the document was about 1975 to 2004, I was not in a position to comment on proceedings," he told the paper.

Repeated requests

It was not the first time that the Murphy inquiry's requests for information had been ignored by the Catholic hierarchy.

In 2006, the commission wrote to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking for reports about clerical sexual abuse that it had been sent to it from the Dublin archdiocese over a 30-year period.

The congregation did not respond.

A year later the inquiry wrote to Dr Leanza's predecessor, Archbishop Giueeppe Lanzzarotto, asking him to forward any documents in his possession relating to clerical abuse in the Dublin diocese, or to confirm that he had no such material.

The archbishop did not reply.

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