Irish foreign minister speaks of Vatican abuse deal

A former Irish foreign minister says a Vatican representative asked him for help to protect the Vatican from possible claims that might be made against the Church in the future.

Dermot Ahern says a senior Vatican official sought him out to make an agreement in 2004. In the agreement, Ireland would indemnify the Catholic Church against legal actions for compensation by clerical child sexual abuse survivors.

Ahern named the official as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was at that time the Vatican Secretary of State.

Mr Ahern says he was “completely taken aback’ by Sodano’s suggestion which was made during celebrations in Rome marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Holy See.

“I got the impression he [Sodano] had just come from the United States, that there had been a major settlement costing millions which, he said, was over and above their moral responsibility.

“As the conversation went on, it was quite clear he was referring to some sort of an indemnity, or part indemnity, from the Irish taxpayer in relation to anything that might come down the tracks.”

[He said this was] “particularly in the context of the educational connection that priests have with our educational system.”

Ahern says he told Sodano “on no account could I give such an undertaking and that it was a matter that would have to be decided by the government anyhow.

“I was very annoyed” he added.

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