His two day trip to the country is the first by a pontiff in 40 years
The Pope has failed to apologise for historic abuse perpetrated by the Catholic church in Ireland during his first speech in the country.
His visit is the first by a pontiff since Pope John Paul II in 1979, and thereby the first following 2009’s Ryan report that detailed the extent of child abuse in Irish institutions. There have been 9,000 reported cases of priests abusing children and 30,000 of single mothers forcefully confined in Mother and Baby Homes – the last of which closed in 1996.
Pope Francis said he shares the Catholic church’s “pain, shame and outrage” for not dealing with “repellent” child abuse by Irish priests, but did not categorically apologise. He said: “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 – they are still in my heart.
“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.
“I myself share those sentiments.”
Irish premier Leo Varadkar referenced the “dark aspects of the Catholic church’s history” in his speech welcoming Pope Francis.
“Magdalene laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse are stains on our state, our society and also the Church,” he said. “These wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors.
“Holy Father, we ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and also around the world.
“Above all, Holy Father, I ask to you to listen to the victims and survivors.”
Magdalene laundries, or Magdalene asylums, were buildings where “fallen women” were confined against their will. “Fallen” was a term used to deride women who had “lost their innocence” via perceived promiscuity.
Mother and Baby Homes similarly locked up unmarried pregnant women. At industrial schools the abuse of children was systematically covered up by religious superiors.
The Pope is expected to visit abuse survivors during his two day trip, which focuses on events in Dublin and a visit to Knock Shrine in County Mayo.