The whistleblower website, Wikileaks, has turned the focus on the Vatican – the heart of the Catholic Church – releasing secret cables showing how it refused to cooperate with an Irish probe into child sex abuse.
The cables show that the Vatican was angry that the Irish government had not made an official request to carry out the investigations into sex abuses by Catholic priests.
Requests for information by the 2009 Murphy Commission, the cable from the US embassy in Rome claimed, “offended many in the Vatican ... because they saw them as an affront to Vatican sovereignty”.
The Murphy Commission’s findings, published in November 2009, caused shock across Ireland and the worldwide Catholic community by detailing how Church authorities covered up for paedophile priests in Dublin for three decades.
Another cable leaked late Friday showed that the British ambassador to the Vatican, Mr Francis Campbell, feared that Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation for disgruntled Anglicans to switch to Catholicism might spark anti-Catholic violence in Britain.
That invitation was made in November 2009 to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
“The Vatican decision seems to have been aimed primarily at Anglicans in the US and Australia, with little thought given to how it would affect the center of Anglicanism, England, or the Archbishop of Canterbury,” reads the cable posted on British newspaper The Guardian’s website – one of the five international media outlets with exclusive access to the leaked cables.
There was also another cable that questions the communication strategy of the Vatican, which was termed “muddled and reactive.”
The cable cites “leadership weaknesses at the top” and an “undervaluing of (and ignorance about) 21st century communications” as reasons for this.
“Most of the top ranks of the Vatican – all men, generally in their seventies – do not understand modern media and new information technologies.
“The blackberry-using Father (Federico) Lombardi (head of the Vatican press office) remains an anomaly in a culture in which many officials do not even have official email accounts,” reads the cable by Julieta Valls Noyes, the US deputy chief of mission to the Holy See.
“The result is a process in which only a handful of experts are aware of imminent decisions – even major decisions with broad implications – and those who are become proponents rather than impartial advisors to the Pope.”
The cable goes on: “There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the Pope’s attention. Vatican’s (Secretary of State) Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is considered a “yes man”, and other Cardinals don’t hold much sway with the Pope – or lack the confidence to bring him bad news.”
The release of the latest cables came as it emerged that Mr Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, had been placed in an isolation unit in London’s Wandsworth Prison, where he’s being held. His lawyers said that it was done for his safety.