Taoiseach Enda Kenny has accused the Holy See of unwarranted interference in a government-ordered inquiry into clerical child abuse over three separate years.
Amid calls to clarify allegations that the Vatican had frustrated the state investigation, Mr Kenny said the Catholic Church must be warned that nothing less than full co-operation is good enough.
The Taoiseach said the Murphy inquiry – which exposed devastating abuse and cover-ups in the Dublin Archdiocese and Cloyne Diocese – was separately denied information at least three times.
Mr Kenny insisted he was standing by his unprecedented attack on the Catholic hierarchy on July 20 following calls by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for him to explain himself.
“I made the point that this is a statutory commission of inquiry and as such nothing less than full cooperation is required, and anything less than full co-operation in my view is unwarranted interference,” the Taoiseach said.
The Vatican branded Mr Kenny’s allegations that it frustrated the Murphy team as unfounded as it responded to the damning Cloyne report last weekend.
He said his widely-praised attack was expressing the anger, frustrations and concerns of the Irish people.
“As a member of the Catholic Church, I want to see the Church of which I am a member as absolutely above reproach in the issue of this and other areas,” Mr Kenny said.
“And for that reason, my claim in the Dail still stands, because this was a statutory commission of inquiry.
“And in 2006, and 2007 and in 2009, there were requests for information and assistance to the Vatican by the Murphy Commission and in each of these cases that request was either refused or rejected.”
The deepening diplomatic row between the Government and the Vatican deepened as relations between Murphy and the Church fractured further as it inquired into Cloyne.
Relations had already been strained after a previous inquiry requested information from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking for information about paedophile priests in the Dublin Archdiocese, but received no reply.
Mr Kenny urged the Church to co-operate with the State to remove any question marks over whether the law of the land will never be undermined.
He had claimed in the Dáil that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry by warning the chairman to use diplomatic channels to seek answers and information from the Vatican.
The church in Rome responded on Saturday with a 25-page document rejecting accusations of interference.
The Vatican’s spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi questioned what was in the Taoiseach’s mind when he made the statement.
While the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called for the Taoiseach to give an explanation, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Government stands by the speech.
In the wake of the Taoiseach’s Dáil comments the Vatican’s Papal Nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was recalled to Rome to prepare the response to criticisms which focused on the hierarchy’s failure to follow child-protection guidelines, including reporting to civil authorities.
In its long-awaited response, the Vatican flatly rejected accusations from Mr Kenny that it attempted to frustrate the state inquiry into Cloyne, claiming it was unfounded.
The Cabinet is likely to discuss the Vatican document when it meets on Thursday after the coalition Government partners, Fine Gael and Labour, finish separate two-day party meetings ahead of the new Dail term.