Pope Francis who paid a historic visit to Ireland today, met with 8 Irish abuse victims after expressing “pain and shame” over the “failure” of the Catholic Church authorities to deal with the abuses.
Pope Francis who stated that he “cannot fail to acknowledge” the “grave scandal” that abuse by Catholic priests had caused, describing it as a “scourge in the Church”, further added that the “failure” of religious leaders including bishops to address the “repellent crimes” had “rightly given rise to outrage”.
Pope Francis’ comment came after Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called on him to implement a “zero tolerance” approach to abusers, and those who participated in cover-ups. “We must now ensure that from words flow actions,” he said.
According to the Prime Minister, Irish scandals including Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, mother and baby homes, illegal adoptions, and clerical abuse were “stains on our State, our society, and also the Catholic Church”. Failures had “created a bitter and broken heritage for so many, leaving a legacy of pain and suffering”, he said, adding that survivors were “kept in dark corners, behind closed doors”.
Pope Francis met with the Irish abuse victims on Saturday in a private event, and as he left Dublin Castle to drive through the city in a blue Skoda, the Pope was greeted by a group of advocates holding a banner calling for redress for victims.
Other placards urged him not to forget abuse survivors. His visit has drawn comparisons to an earlier visit by Pope John Paul II in 1979, at which 2.7m people greeted him and more than a million attended a Mass in the city’s Phoenix Park. The figures for this year’s event are not yet know, but the pavement behind the barriers outside the castle was not full and many of those watching were there to protest.
It is expected that on Sunday the Pope will conduct a papal mass in the same location, with half a million expected to attend. A Facebook group, Say Nope to the Pope, which has 6,300 members, has prompted some to obtain a free ticket with no intention of going, as a gesture of protest against a series of issues including the church’s involvement in Irish politics and stances on LGBT and women’s equality.