AP: The Vatican says Pope Francis has met with eight survivors of clerical and institutional abuse on the first day of his trip to Ireland, which is ground zero for the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis met with the group for about a half hour Saturday evening. Among the victims was Marie Collins, a prominent survivor who served on Francis’ advisory board but quit in frustration last year. She has since become a harsh critic of the Vatican, and occasionally the pope.
Burke named several participants after they agreed to be identified publicly. They included two priests and a public official.
Francis arrived in Dublin on Saturday and vowed to end the “scourge” of abuse. He said he shared the outrage over the cover-up of “these repugnant crimes.”
The Irish prime minister has called for a new relationship between church and state in which religion is no longer at the centre of society, as the pope made his first visit to Ireland this weekend.
In a blistering speech focusing on the failings of the church, delivered in the presence of Pope Francis, Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach, said a new covenant for the 21st century was needed that reflected the modern country Ireland had become and learned from “our shared mistakes”. The Guardian
Pope Francis has said he is ashamed of the Catholic Church’s failure to adequately address the “repellent crimes” of sex abuse by clergy.
“I cannot 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,” the Pope told political leaders and dignitaries at Dublin Castle.
“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community,” he said.
“I myself share those sentiments.” BBC
Pope Francis has arrived in Ireland for a brief visit that will be dominated by demands for action at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic church to deal with the systemic cover-up of abuse by priests and church institutions.
An Alitalia flight carrying the pope, his entourage and the Vatican media corps touched down at Dublin airport just before 10.30am on Saturday for only the second papal visit to Ireland.
At a low-key ceremony on the tarmac, he was greeted by politicians, bishops and dignitaries, and presented with flowers by the five-year-old daughter of Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney. A Skoda bearing a papal flag stood by to take Francis to his first engagement, meeting the Irish president, Michael Higgins, at his official residence.
Pope Francis will start 36-hour trip to a country whose national identity was once steeped in conservative Catholicism but which has undergone a social revolution in the four decades since the last papal visit.
His historic trip, only the second by a serving pope, comes under the dark shadow of sexual abuse by Irish priests and cover-up by senior church figures with which Ireland is still struggling to come to terms. The visit will also put Francis in a global spotlight as the Vatican is reeling from scandals this year in the US, Australia and Chile.
Nevertheless, flags in Vatican colours are lining the River Liffey, and souvenir sellers have stocked up on Pope Francis dolls (€35, made in Spain), candles, rosary beads, fridge magnets, mugs, T-shirts and “lollipopes”. A giant drive-through confession box has been erected by bookmakers Paddy Power; “Repent decades of sins in seconds!” urges a hoarding outside.
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.
Today, Ireland is no longer staunchly Catholic and over the past three years, voters have approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the will of the church.
Sources : Euronews / Vatican News / Guardian