The Pope Meets With Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors In Ireland

The Italian Pope Meets With Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors In Ireland

Pope Francis delivers a speech in the Dublin Castle during his visit to Ireland, in Dublin, Ireland, on August 25, 2018. Source: EPA-EFE


Pope Francis, on the first papal visit to Ireland on August 25th, 2018, in almost four decades, expressed "outrage" over the Catholic Church's cover-up of sex abuse. He later met with 8 survivors of what the Vatican called as "clerical as well as religious & institutional abuse."


Ireland is the hotbed of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis, with the institution under fire across the world for its systemic failures to protect kids or to punish bishops that hid the crimes.


“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities — bishops, religious superiors, priests and others — to adequately address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share these sentiments." the Pope said in a speech in Italian to Irish government authorities.


“With regard to the most vulnerable, I can't fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” he added.


However, he didn't indicate whether he plans to take forceful action to hold bishops accountable for protecting kids or to sanction them when they fall short.


The pope met with the eight survivors later, including some abused sexually and some who as infants were forcibly separated from their moms in church-run orphans homes.


Francis referred to the past remarks of Pope Benedict in a letter to Irish Catholics claiming that he “spared no words in recognizing both the gravity of the situation” as well as in demanding “truly evangelical, just and effective” measures to be taken in response “to this betrayal of trust.”


The Italian Pope Meets With Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors In Ireland

Pope Francis waves as he boards the plane on his way to the his two-day pastoral trip to Ireland. Source: AFP/Getty Images


In their meeting with the pope, the survivors delivered a letter calling on the pontiff to condemn the forced separations of 100,000 mothers from their kids in notorious adoption centers. According to the Irish Times, the letter said:


“The nuns have never taken responsibility for their willful neglect. We ask you, Pope Francis, to publicly call on these nuns to acknowledge their actions and issue an open and unqualified apology."

In turn, the pope agreed to end a mass on August 26th, by telling mothers who had given up their kids for adoption that there was no sin is now looking for their kids, according to the newspaper.


Upon his arrival from Rome, Pope Francis sought to get ahead of the public criticism in his opening remarks to several hundred dignitaries from Irish political, religious, and civic life.


“It's my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast a light on the failings of many, will serve to emphasize the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole,” he said, according to the Irish Times.


Nevertheless, 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 US, an ongoing crisis in Chile and prosecutions of top clerics in Australia and France.


Colm O’Gorman, who's leading a solidarity rally in Dublin for abuse victims, said Francis’ remarks concerning the shame felt by Catholics were an “insult to faithful Catholics.”


A group of protesters demonstrating against the pope’s visit outside Dublin Castle had a banner which read: “Pedophile supporters go home.”


Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in remarks in Dublin Castle before the pontiff spoke, set the tone for the visit in saying the time had come to build a "more mature" relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish state.


Varadkar referred to the abuse as “unspeakable crimes" which were perpetrated by people within the church.


The prime minister addressed the Church’s handling of clerical sex abuse and said that there “can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate the abuse.”


The country of Ireland has experienced one of the world's worst records of abuse. Crimes were revealed to the 4.8 million people of the deeply Catholic nation through a series of government-mandated inquiries over the last decade. The reviews concluded that thousands of kids were raped or molested by priests and physically abused in church-run schools whilst bishops covered up for abusers.


After the Irish church faced the problems and established strict new rules to fight abuse, and it had been looking to the very first visit by a pope in forty years to show a different, more caring church that understands the problems of Catholic families today.


Over 37,000 people – the majority of them young Catholics – signed up to attend a Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families which began in Dublin on August 21st and runs through August 26th, more than twice the number as for the last family rally held in Philadelphia three years ago.


And many faithful were hopeful. However, Ireland’s tortured history of abuse has unfortunately left its mark.


In a country where Catholic bishops held such sway that they advised the drafters of the republic’s constitution in the 1930s, voters in recent years have turned their backs on core Catholic teachings, overturning a constitutional ban on abortion and legalized divorce, same-sex marriage, and contraception.


Francis was welcomed on the tarmac of Dublin International Airport by a small delegation mostly composed of clergy.


Irish abuse victims, as well as their supporters, were expected to hold a solidarity rally on August 26th in Dublin, at the same time Francis is celebrating his final Mass to close out the family conference.


Separately, survivors of Ireland’s wretched “mother and baby homes” – where kids were sent away for the embarrassment of having been born to unmarried mothers – are holding their own demonstration. The location is Tuam, site of a mass grave of hundreds of babies who died over the years at a church-run home.


Francis will be nearby, visiting the Marian shrine at Knock, but he isn't planning to visit the grave site.


On the eve of Francis’ arrival in Dublin, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley – the pope’s top abuse counselor – said protecting kids and vulnerable adults was now the single most crucial issue facing the church.


O’Malley had been expected to headline the discussion in person, yet he backed out at the very last minute, explaining a new inquiry he launched into his diocesan seminary amid sexual misconduct allegations – one of all three prominent U.S. seminaries which have recently launched such investigations.


Irish abuse survivor and advocate Marie Collins, who resigned in frustration from O’Malley’s board in 2017, told the safeguarding panel that if Francis claims to be on the side of victims, the Catholic Church should no longer lobby to block the ability of victims to sue and prosecute abusers after the statute of limitations expires.


She called for “robust structures” and strong sanctions to hold accountable bishops and Vatican officials who fail to protect children.


Nevertheless, Francis offered no such structures or sanctions in a letter he penned on the eve of his Irish visit, vowing only to spare no effort to fight the abuse problem. He has pledged “zero tolerance” since the start of his pontificate.


When St. John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979, in the first-ever papal visit, about 1.25 million people turned out for his first Mass in Phoenix Park, 1/3 of Ireland's population and the biggest gathering in Irish history at the time.


References: The Associated Press, USA Today

The Pope Meets With Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors In Ireland The Pope Meets With Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors In Ireland Reviewed by Katerina Pap on 10:20 AM Rating: 5

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