Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

T HE Pope has prayed for the vic­tims of cler­i­cal sex abuse in Ire­land af­ter ex­press­ing pain and shame at the fail­ure of church author­i­ties to tackle the scan­dal.

Fran­cis sat in prayer­ful con­tem­pla­tion inside a Dublin cathe­dral at a can­dle per­pet­u­ally lit for those abused on the first day of his his­toric visit to the coun­try.

The ges­ture at St Mary’s Pro Cathe­dral came af­ter the pon­tiff ac­knowl­edged that peo­ple had a right to be out­raged at the re­sponse of se­nior fig­ures in the Catholic Church to the crimes in­flicted on young peo­ple.

In the speech at Dublin Cas­tle, he ex­pressed hope that re­main­ing ob­sta­cles to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in North­ern Ire­land could be over­come.

His visit to the cathe­dral yes­ter­day af­ter­noon came ahead of a drive through the city in the Pope Mo­bile.

With the re­ver­ber­a­tions of a litany of church sex abuse scan­dals cast­ing a shadow over the first pa­pal visit to Ire­land in al­most 40 years, Fran­cis con­fronted the is­sue in his Dublin Cas­tle ad­dress.

“With re­gard to the most vul­ner­a­ble, 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,” he said.

“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.” Fran­cis re­ferred to ac­tion take by his pre­de­ces­sor, Pope Bene­dict, as he in­sisted the church was act­ing.

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

The Pope said he also wished to ac­knowl­edge women who in the past had “en­dured par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances”.

Later, he passed close to the site of a for­mer Mag­da­lene laun­dry as he ar­rived on Sean McDer­mott Street in the north in­ner city to meet well­wish­ers out­side Our Lady of Lour­des Church.

The no­to­ri­ous laun­dry in­sti­tu­tions run by Catholic re­li­gious or­ders ef­fec­tively in­car­cer­ated thou­sands of young women from trou­bled back- grounds and forced them to work un­der harsh con­di­tions.

Dur­ing his Dublin Cas­tle speech, the Pope praised those who helped forge North­ern Ire­land’s his­toric Good Fri­day peace agree­ment in 1998.

In an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal dead­lock in North­ern Ire­land, which has seen the re­gion without a prop­erly func­tion- ing de­volved govern­ment for 20 months, Fran­cis said: “We can give thanks for the two decades of peace that fol­lowed this his­toric agree­ment, while ex­press­ing firm hope that the peace process will over­come ev­ery re­main­ing ob­sta­cle and help give birth to a fu­ture of har­mony, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and mu­tual trust.”

The speech came af­ter a pri­vate meet­ing with Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar, and later the Ir­ish premier urged the Pope to “lis­ten to the vic­tims” in his own ad­dress at Dublin Cas­tle.

Mr Varad­kar said there had to be zero tol­er­ance for those who abuse and any­one who fa­cil­i­tated them.

“Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about jus­tice and truth and heal­ing for vic­tims and sur­vivors,” he said. “Holy Fa­ther, I ask that you use your of­fice and in­flu­ence to en­sure this is done here in Ire­land and across the world.”

Mr Varad­kar said he hoped the Pope’s visit marked a “new chap­ter” in Ire­land’s re­la­tion­ship with the Catholic Church.

Ear­lier, the Pope met Ir­ish Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Phoenix Park.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple are ex­pected to wel­come Fran­cis dur­ing his whis­tle-stop tour of the cap­i­tal city and Co Mayo over the week­end.

Dur­ing his Ir­ish trip, the Pope will wit­ness a coun­try that has un­der­gone seis­mic so­cial changes in the four decades since the last pa­pal visit in 1979, when John Paul II was lauded by a na­tion shaped by its re­la­tion­ship with an all-pow­er­ful Catholic Church.

While the Pope re­ceived a warm re­cep­tion from the many pil­grims who have trav­elled to be part of the oc­ca­sion, pro­test­ers have also taken the streets to voice anger at how the church dealt with the sex abuse scan­dals that have dam­aged trust in the re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion and se­ri­ously weak­ened its in­flu­ence on Ir­ish so­ci­ety.

At some point over the week­end, the Pope will meet a num­ber of abuse vic­tims at a pri­vate event.

Ear­lier this week, he wrote a 2,000word letter to Catholics in which he con­demned the crime of sex­ual abuse by priests and sub­se­quent cover-ups.

He de­manded ac­count­abil­ity in re­sponse to fresh rev­e­la­tions in Penn­syl­va­nia in the United States of decades of mis­con­duct by cler­ics.

Fran­cis is os­ten­si­bly in Ire­land to at­tend the World Meet­ing of Fam­i­lies (WMOF) – a ma­jor global church event fo­cused on pro­mot­ing fam­ily val­ues. How­ever, he will also ful­fil a num­ber of other en­gage­ments.

With Ire­land in the midst of a high­pro­file home­less­ness prob­lem, the Pope will meet a num­ber of af­fected in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies at a cen­tre run by a re­li­gious or­der.

This evening, he will join 82,000 pil­grims at a mu­si­cal fes­ti­val in the land­mark Croke Park Gaelic Athletic As­so­ci­a­tion sta­dium.

To­day, the Pope will fly west to Co Mayo, where he will fol­low in the foot­steps of John Paul II and take part in a re­li­gious ser­vice at a holy shrine in Knock.

He will then re­turn to Dublin for the clos­ing cen­tre­piece of the WMOF event – an out­door Mass in front of an ex­pected con­gre­ga­tion of half a mil­lion peo­ple in Phoenix Park. Please post me free & without obli­ga­tion full de­tails of the Alta2 Pro hear­ing aid. Tick if pen­sioner.

Pope Fran­cis greets the public as he trav­els through Dublin in the Pope­mo­bile yes­ter­day

LGBT pro­test­ers from Dublin Pride and We Are Church with flags and um­brel­las on Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, to re­mem­ber the vic­tims of cler­i­cal sex abuse

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