Pope does not greet Irish Prime Minister
Ireland’s Prime Minister, who attacked the Vatican in a July 2011 speech over its failure to protect children, attended a papal audience but the pope did not greet him or any other leader present
Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Enda Kenny, attended a papal audience with other European political leaders linked to the internationalCentrist Democratic movement at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo this morning, September 22, but the Pope did not greet him or any of the other political leaders present.
Pope Benedict spoke to group of some 100 political leaders from across the globe on the need for ethics in economics, and the importance of defending human life -from conception to natural death, and marriage.
The Italian politician, Ferdinando Casini, greeted the Pope on behalf of the whole group, and presented him with a book.
Given the group’s size, nobody had imagined that Benedict XVI would greet them all individually, but it had been expected that he would shake hands with the European Prime Ministers, including Ireland’s Enda Kenny, who was seated on the front row alongside the Greek Prime Minister. This did not happen.
Pope Benedict did not greet anybody on entering or leaving the audience, possibly because he was suffering from fatigue after last week’s visit to the Lebanon, a Vatican source told me. Instead, after delivering his speech, he just sat with the group for a photo and then left the audience.
The previous day, Kenny met Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, and afterwards spoke to journalists. It was clear then that he expected to meet the Pope.
Asked by the Irish Times whether he felt in any way “uncomfortable” about meeting Pope Benedict “given that he was one of the few European leaders to have been so critical of him” in his July 2011 speech to the Dail (the Irish Parliament’s lower house), Kenny responded by defending what he had said, implying he didn’t feel any unease.
“I think that the matter that I raised in the Dáil in regard to the Catholic Church has been beneficial in the sense that it has brought about a new sense of reality. From my dealings with church authorities since then, there has been a realism and an understanding that the scars of the past have to be dealt with and dealt with fully and that we have to put in place foundations for the future which demonstrate the sense of values that we have for our country and for our people”, he said.
“All that is reflected in the decision I made on taking office in appointing a Minister for Children, a decision made after twenty year, where the Government has also published and nominated a date for the referendum on child protection, where we will engage fully with the people about inserting a special article into our Constitution in regard to children, their voices and their rights”, Kenny said.
“It used to be that children were to be seen and not heard. Had they been heard and listened to, we might not have had many of the scars that I have referred to”, he added.
The Irish leader concluded by saying, “So I’m happy to meet with Pope Benedict and look forward to that brief meeting in Castel Gandolfo tomorrow. It will just be a shake of hands as part of a group meeting; it will not be an opportunity to have a one-to-one or any in-depth conversation with him,”
Asked by Vatican Insider whether he would tell Pope Benedict that he is welcome to visit Ireland if he wishes, the Taoiseach responded, “Well that’s a matter for the Church authorities to invite him to Ireland. I’ve already said to both Cardinal Brady and to Archbishop Martin that in the event that the Catholic Church does invite Pope Benedict to Ireland and that he accedes to their request, they can take it for certain that the Government will be fully supportive and will (welcome him in a way that) reflects his stature and his position in the Catholic Church if he so decides. He’s very welcome to come, but it’s not for me to make the invitation, it’s one for the Church”