The Vatican issued a stern rebuttal to the government of Ireland on Saturday, insisting that the Catholic Church had not instructed Irish clergy to thwart investigations of sexual abuse of children by priests.
The 11,000-word statement from the Vatican came in response to a scathing report by the Irish government in July. That report alleged that the church leadership had arranged to skirt legal inquiries and scrutiny of abuse in Ireland, allegations the Vatican today called "unfounded."
The Irish Times reports that church leaders are aiming to avoid trading barbs with the country's leaders, including Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who condemned the church in a speech to Parliament on July 20. The Vatican statement criticized that speech, and said its heated tone stemmed from a "misinterpretation" of a secret 1997 letter sent by the Vatican ambassador to the bishops of Ireland.
The Vatican and the country's government have been at odds since the speech, which triggered the Vatican to recall its Irish ambassador. Some outlets treated the Vatican statement as the continuation of hostilities on Saturday - The New York Times reported it as "the latest salvo" - but some attempted to strike a diplomatic tone.