No comment from Taoiseach after meeting with Pope

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has met Pope Benedict for the first time since he attacked the Vatican's record on clerical child sex abuse in a Dáil speech last year.

Mr Kenny was part of a delegation of centre-right politicians who visited to the pontiff's summer residence near Rome.

The Taoiseach declined to comment on the meeting following the short encounter.

He is in Rome as part of a two-day meeting of the Centrist Democrats International group hosted by the Italian leader, Mario Monti.

The group is affiliated with the European People’s Party, of which Fine Gael is a member.

Mr Kenny was among a group of European political leaders who met Pope Benedict at his residence at Castel Gandolfo.

Last July in the Dail, the Taoiseach launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican, accusing Catholic hierarchy of putting the Church ahead of child rape victims.

In a damning assessment of Rome’s attitude to paedophile priests, Mr Kenny said investigations into the cover-up of clerical abuse had exposed a dysfunctional, elite hierarchy determined to frustrate investigations.

He also warned the Holy See that religion did not rule Ireland.

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