Colm O'Gorman dubs Pope's speech to the Irish public "disgraceful"

Hannah Rogers
August 26, 2018

Pope Francis during a tree planting ceremony with President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (2nd R) and his wife Sabina Coyne (R) at Aras an Uachtarain on August 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

"I like to be with families, so I am happy about this visit", he told the 70 journalists travelling with him on the Alitalia plane, nicknamed Shepherd One.

Large images of abuse victims and the hashtag #Stand4Truth - promoting a gathering of survivors and supporters elsewhere in Dublin during Sunday's mass - were projected onto some of the city's most recognised buildings on Friday night, including Dublin's Pro Cathedral. But neither his words at the start of his visit nor a new meeting with victims is likely to assuage demands for heads to roll over the sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis vowed on Saturday to end the sexual exploitation of children by clergy during a highly-charged visit to once deeply Catholic Ireland and, according to victims, said the corruption and cover up of abuse amounted to human excrement.

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".

Pope Francis has arrived in Ireland for the first papal visit to the country in almost four decades. No one from the general public was on hand at the airport or the roads nearby, and only a handful of people waited to cheer him outside the Vatican residence, despite gloriously sunny weekend weather.

He will visit a homeless centre, before attending this evening's Feast of Families event at Croke Park stadium.

And two of the Irish adoptees said they were heartened Francis said he would address their concerns at Mass on Sunday.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all", the grand jury wrote.

Burke said the victim "preferred to remain anonymous".

He received a letter from them explaining how 100,000 single mothers had been "forcibly separated from their babies".

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"It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast light on the failings of so many, will serve to emphasize the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole".

He described abuse within the Church as "caca", literally translated "filth as one sees in the toilet", as his translator politely clarified.

In a speech to Irish government authorities on Saturday, Francis cited measures taken by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to respond to the clergy abuse crisis.

Francis' first speech in Ireland on Saturday is an address to Irish government officials and civil society, where he will likely refer to the scandal.

But neither Francis' words nor a new meeting with abuse victims is likely to calm the outrage among rank-and-file Catholics following new revelations of sexual misconduct and cover-up in the United States, an ongoing crisis in Chile and prosecutions of top clerics in Australia and France.

On the first day of his historic Irish visit, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the "repellent crimes" inflicted on young people. "It is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland".

"We have such a history of abuse and so many have had their lives destroyed", Marie Collins, a survivor of clerical abuse, told AFP. Irish voters in recent years have turned their backs on core Catholic teachings.

Varadkar, who is openly gay, said the country was more diverse, less religious and had modernized its laws, "understanding that marriages do not always work, that women should make their own decisions, and that families come in many different, wonderful forms, including those headed by a grandparent, lone parent or same-sex parents, or parents who are divorced".

A silent vigil will be held on Sunday at the site of a former Church-run home for unwed mothers where an unmarked grave with the remains of hundreds of babies was found in 2014.

The Marian shrine of Knock is a well-known place of Catholic pilgrimage in the west of Ireland.

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