Pope Francis to meet Irish victims of sexual abuse

Aug 26, 2018, 02:15
Pope Francis to meet Irish victims of sexual abuse

Francis' trip to Ireland, the first by a pope in 39 years, has been overshadowed by renewed outrage over the Catholic Church's systemic failures to protect children, following revelations of sexual misconduct and cover-up in the US church hierarchy, a growing crisis in Chile and the prosecutions of top clerics in Australia and France. A gathering for victims of clergy abuse is planned for the same time as the papal Mass on Sunday.

Varadkar, who remarked how some his predecessors would have consulted bishops about public policy in decades past, will meet Francis at the start of the two-day visit and has promised to challenge the pope to do more in dealing with the abuse crisis.

A Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families that opened on Tuesday ends Sunday in Dublin.

The main objective of the trip to Ireland is to close a week-long global Catholic gathering on the theme of the family that takes place every three years in a different city.

Amid the cheers, there were some protests in support of victims of clerical abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church.

. "I myself share these sentiments".

The Pope veered off his script when speaking out about abuse, saying he had set out a "greater commitment to eliminating this scourge in the Church, at any cost".

A damning report last week into abuse in the US state of Pennsylvania, which followed scandals in Australia and Chile, was all too tragically familiar in Ireland, Varadkar said, adding that the time had come for a very different Ireland to build a new relationship with the Church.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to welcome the pope, but there will also be demonstrations and vigils by survivors of clergy sex abuse in a country where attitudes on the Catholic Church are shifting.

"People kept in dark corners, behind closed doors, cries for help that went unheard".

Mr Varadkar said there could be zero tolerance for those who abuse children or who facilitate that abuse and that from words action must flow.

Earlier this month, the Vatican was rocked by a devastating U.S. report accused more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania state of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.

After the Irish church atoned for its past and enacted tough new norms to fight abuse, it had been looking to the first visit by a pope in 40 years to show a different, more caring church that understands the problems of ordinary Catholic families.

"He could have talked to us all in a way that was blunt, that was clear, that was frank, that was human, that was accessible", he said.

He was met on the red carpet by deputy head of government Simon Coveney and his children, who presented him with a bouquet of white and yellow roses with Irish foliage.

Later, at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin, he held a silent prayer in front of a candle that commemorates abuse victims, before answering questions from couples of all ages on the subject of marriage.

The Pope is paying a courtesy visit to the President, before transferring to Dublin Castle, where he will address government authorities, leaders of civil society, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Pope Francis also visited a Capuchin day centre for the homeless.

The reception that Francis received in Dublin contrasted sharply with the raucous, rock star welcome that greeted John Paul II in 1979 in the first-ever papal visit to that country.

Pope Francis will join the Festival of Families one hour into the event and following a tour of Croke Park will deliver an address to all gathered in the stadium.

The Pope has been urged by the taoiseach to use his "office and influence" to bring about justice for victims and survivors of clerical abuse.