The Vatican said Monday it was recalling its representative in Ireland following a damning report on the Catholic Church's handling of child abuse by priests that sparked government outrage.
"Apostolic Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been recalled for consultations" after the publication of the judicial report into abuses in an Irish diocese "and in particular due to the reactions to it," the Vatican said in a statement.
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, who summoned Laenza to urgent talks earlier this month, said the recall was "a matter for the Holy See," but said Dublin was still awaiting the Vatican's response to the report.
The minister said in a statement that it was to be "expected that the Vatican would wish to consult in depth with the Nuncio on its response."
The publication of the report into more than a decade of sex abuse by priests in the diocese of Cloyne triggered a blistering attack on the Vatican by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny that was widely hailed.
In language never before used by an Irish leader, an outraged Kenny told the parliament that the Church's inability to deal with the cases showed a culture of "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism" at the Vatican.
Kenny, who became Taoiseach, or prime minister, after elections in February, slammed the Catholic Church's behaviour as "absolutely disgraceful."
The report condemned the Church's handling of abuse claims against 19 clerics in Cloyne in southern Ireland between 1996 and 2009, saying it was "inadequate and inappropriate".
The Vatican said last week that it would respond to the report at "an appropriate moment" and appealed for "objectivity".
On Monday, a Vatican official said there had been "some excessive reactions" which had surprised and disappointed the Holy See.
However, the official, who declined to be named, said the scale of the reaction justified the recall of the papal nuncio, and said this demonstrated "the wish of the Holy See to establish serious and effective cooperation".
Kenny returned to the theme of his parliament speech late Sunday when giving a lecture at a political summer school in County Donegal, receiving a standing ovation.
"The fact that I have had thousands of messages from around the world speaks for itself about the impact and the way people feel," he said.
The prime minister also said he had been surprised at the number of priests who supported his speaking out against the Vatican.
"The numbers of members of the clergy who have been in touch in the last few days, to say it is about time somebody spoke out about these matters in a situation like you are, has astounded me.
"I haven’t made any other comment except to say that we await the response from the Vatican."
Father Michael Collins, a Dublin priest and author of a book on pope John Paul II, said the meaning of the nuncio's recall was unclear.
"We don't know if he actually been recalled just for consultations or recalled, which means his appointment here is finished," he told RTE public radio.
Collins said he expected the Vatican to be taking Kenny's criticisms "very, very seriously".
"Suddenly to find the leader of the Irish government effectively saying in parliament, 'look, we don't like the way that you are interfering with the state of our country, that we are now the political elected members... and we feel that you are running a counter-culture which doesn't correspond with the job we have been given'."© ANP/AFP