Ireland accredits Vatican envoy after sex abuse row

Ireland accredited a new envoy to the Vatican on Tuesday, three years after Dublin closed its embassy following a row over a sex abuse probe.

Vatican City: Ireland accredited a new envoy to the Vatican on Tuesday, three years after Dublin closed its embassy following a row over a sex abuse probe.

Emma Madigan was received by Pope Francis, the Vatican said in a statement. She also met the Vatican`s number two Pietro Parolin.

Madigan, who presented her credentials, invited the pontiff to visit Ireland, adding that while such an invitation would come from church authorities, the government would do everything "to make the visit a success," Irish foreign ministry spokeswoman Fionnuala Quinlan said.

"Ambassador Madigan underlined that Ireland is a strong advocate for the freedom of religion or belief. The persecution of members of religious minorities, including Christians, in several parts of the world is a matter of serious concern to the Irish government," Quinlan added.

The embassy shut in November 2011, ostensibly for economic reasons.

But the move was interpreted in Vatican diplomatic circles as a snub by Ireland, which accused the Holy See of trying to cover up and interfere in a report on clerical paedophilia.

The sex abuse scandal which rocked the Roman Catholic Church affected huge number of victims in Ireland, where religious leaders were accused of having protected predator priests and disrupted enquiries.

Diplomatic relations degenerated in July 2011, when Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Vatican of trying to whitewash a probe into child sex abuse committed between 1996 and 2006.

He said the Cloyne Report "exposed the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism" in the Vatican.

The Vatican denounced the actions of offending priests in Ireland but denied having tried to interfere in the report.

The scandal hit the Church hard in Ireland, where the majority of people say they are Catholic but church attendance numbers have dropped.

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