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Ireland blasts papal diplomat's refusal to testify
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
Associated Press
2010-02-16 04:47 AM
Irish lawmakers have denounced the refusal of Pope Benedict's diplomat in Ireland to testify to a parliamentary panel probing the level of Catholic Church cooperation with investigations into the church's cover-up of child abuse.

The papal nuncio to Ireland, Cardinal Giuseppi Leanza, told lawmakers in a letter published Monday he would not answer questions from the parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"I wish to inform that it is not the practice of the Holy See that apostolic nuncios appear before parliamentary commissions," he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 12.

Leanza has faced heavy criticism in Ireland for ignoring letters from two state-ordered investigations into how the church for decades suppressed reports of child abuse by parish priests and in Catholic-run residences for poor children. The investigators said the cardinal did not reply to letters seeking the Vatican's assistance.

Irish lawmaker Alan Shatter said it was "not only deeply regrettable but incomprehensible" that Leanza would not explain the Vatican's noncooperation with Irish investigations, given "it is acknowledged in Rome that members of the clergy in Ireland are guilty of abominable sexual abuse of children."

Leanza is currently in Rome participating in this week's Vatican summit of Ireland's 24 bishops. The meeting, which ends Tuesday, is expected to advance a planned papal letter to the people of Ireland apologizing for church failures to protect thousands of children from abuse.

Irish campaigners for abuse victims are demanding much more, including a mass resignation of any bishops who failed to tell police about reports of pedophile priests. They also demand that the pope accept in full the findings of the Irish investigations, which some church officials in Ireland have criticized as unfair.

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