Pope Laments Sex Abuse in Ireland

Pope Francis at the Phoenix Park Dublin for the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families as part of his visit to Ireland

Pope Francis at the Phoenix Park Dublin for the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families as part of his visit to Ireland

However, he failed to specifically mention the current scandal raging over a United States grand jury report documenting at least 1,000 cases of clerical pedophilia.

"I'm delighted he is coming, I think it makes a great change from the last few years of bad news for the Church", said Dubliner Kyle O'Sullivan.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said the past treatment of many women and young people had left a history of "sorrow and shame". "It's a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland".

The pope, who travelled through Dublin in a blue Skoda in keeping with his shunning of limousines and bulletproof cars, said Church leaders needed to remedy past mistakes and adopt stringent norms to ensure they do not happen again.

The Vatican said that the pope will have a private meeting with survivors of abuse later on Saturday. "He didn't offer any concrete new plan of action, including over the vexed issue of accountability for the cover-up of abuse crimes".

"Disappointing, nothing new", was the reaction from Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of Francis' sex abuse advisory panel who quit past year in frustration.

Francis' trip to Ireland, the first papal visit in 39 years, comes on the heels of a damning report released last week by a grand jury in Pennsylvania that found 300 Catholic priests across the state had abused more than 1,000 children in the past 70 years.

The trip, Francis' most direct encounter yet with the ramifications of those scandals, is expected to test whether he can begin to rebuild the church's standing in a country where Catholicism was once the social and religious bedrock. A total of 500,000 free tickets have been distributed for the landmark religious event in Dublin's Phoenix Park this afternoon.

The Supreme Pontiff met privately for 90 minutes with eight survivors of abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church. One protest, dubbed "Stand for Truth", will take place at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin's Parnell Square at the same time as the Mass is celebrated.

"The actions of the church do not match the words, and they are in fact totally the opposite", Collins said.

Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park Dublin Ireland
Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park Dublin Ireland

A devastating report earlier this month accused more than 300 priests in the USA state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.

One of the victims of Fr Tony Walsh, a priest and serial abuser who assaulted hundreds of children over almost two decades, was also present but preferred to remain anonymous.

More than three-quarters of the Irish population flocked to see Pope John Paul II in 1979 at a time when divorce and contraception were illegal.

Francis urged the Irish to recognize that for all its failings, the Catholic Church educated and cared for generations of Irish children in times of starvation and great poverty.

On Monday, Francis acknowledged "with shame and repentance" the Catholic Church's failure to act over clerical abuse.

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The Pope is expected to meet abuse survivors later on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the Vatican was rocked by a devastating USA report accused more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania state of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s. But Francis cited Benedict XVI's call for "truly evangelical, just and effective" measures to be taken in response to the "betrayal of trust" caused by abuse.

The Amnesty director slammed the speech that he claimed, deflected responsibility for clerical sex abuses.

Pope Francis is heading to Ireland as the Catholic Church faces a global crisis for its systemic failures to protect children from clergy sex abuse or to punish bishops who hid the crimes.




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