Dublin: Pope Francis on Saturday said he is ashamed of the Catholic Church’s failure to adequately address the “repellent crimes” of sex abuse by clergy and that the “failure of ecclesiastical authorities” to address abuse has “rightly given rise to outrage”.
“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities — bishops, religious superiors, priests and others — adequately to address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments,” the Pope said during an address at Dublin Castle.
However, he failed to specifically mention the current scandal over a US grand jury report documenting at least 1,000 cases of clerical paedophilia. He also did not discuss concrete changes in laws or transparency or address the question of the Vatican’s complicity in the abuse cases, CNN reported.
“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 Pontiff told a room filled with members of the Irish government, lawmakers and diplomats.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who spoke before the Pope, did not skirt the current abuse revelations that emerged in Pennsylvania.
“In recent weeks, we have all listened to heart-breaking stories from Pennsylvania of brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church, and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims,” he said, referring to the investigation in the US state that found that over 1,000 identifiable minors had been abused by 300 priests.
“It is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland,” Varadkar said. He called for “zero tolerance” of Church sexual abuse and urged the Pope “to adopt stringent norms meant to ensure that they do not happen again.”
“Holy Father, I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the world,” Varadkar said, and asked the Pope to listen to the victims.
The Pope was expected to meet some Irish victims of clerical sexual predators.
The 32-hour trip was the first papal visit to the majority Roman Catholic Ireland in 39 years, a country that has undergone seismic social changes in that time, with the introduction of divorce, gay marriage and more recently the legalization of abortion, as well as a growing rejection of religion.
Indian-origin Varadkar, who is openly gay, said the country was more diverse, less religious and had modernized its laws. He said the changes meant the time had come “for us to build a new, more mature relationship between church and state in Ireland — a new covenant for the 21st century.
Hundreds of thousands of people will attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope at the city’s Phoenix Park on Sunday, with all 500,000 tickets for the free event booked out. However, he was also expected to face unprecedented protests over the clerical abuse scandals and the Church’s handling of them.