Tuesday 18 June 2019

Pope Francis asks forgiveness for clerical sex abuse in 'unprecedented move' during Phoenix Park mass

Pope Francis admitted the Church hierarchy had “kept quiet” about and “did not take charge” of painful situations

Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
An aerial view of the crowd at Phoenix Park in Dublin as Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

POPE Francis has asked for forgiveness for the treatment of single mothers and children who were exploited and abused by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

In an unprecedented move, the Pope made a statement at the beginning of the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park this afternoon.

Pilgrims arriving in the Phoenix Park for Pope Francis closing Mass.
Picture By David Conachy.
Pilgrims arriving in the Phoenix Park for Pope Francis closing Mass. Picture By David Conachy.

He admitted the Church hierarchy had “kept quiet” about and “did not take charge” of painful situations.

“We ask forgiveness for the abuses in Ireland. Abuses of power, conscience and sexual abuses perpetrated by members with roles of responsibility within the Church,” he said.

The Pope stopped for applause from the several hundreds of thousands present on a number of occasions during his speech which will make global headlines.

Significantly he acknowledged not just the problem of sexual abuse in the Church but also referenced events that happened in Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and industrial schools.

Survivors of these institutions who met Pope Francis for 90 minutes yesterday claimed he seemed to have limited knowledge about what occurred there.

“In a special way we ask pardon for all the abuses committed in various types of institutions run by male or female religious or other members of the Church,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis waves as he attends the Festival of Families at Croke Park during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Pope Francis waves as he attends the Festival of Families at Croke Park during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

“We ask for forgiveness for those cases of exploited through manual work that so many young women and men were subjected to. We ask forgiveness.”

He added: “We have forgiveness for the times in the Church when we did not sure survivors of whatever kind of abuse compassion. The seeking of justice needs concrete actions.

An aerial view of the crowd at Phoenix Park in Dublin as Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
An aerial view of the crowd at Phoenix Park in Dublin as Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

“We ask forgiveness for some members of Church hierarchy who did not take charge of these painful situations and kept quiet. We ask for forgiveness.”

Finally he accepted that unmarried mothers who were forced to give up their children for adoption by Church organisations had been wronged.

Pope Francis arrives for a visit to St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin to meet with recently-married couples, and couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Pope Francis arrives for a visit to St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin to meet with recently-married couples, and couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

“We ask forgiveness for the times when many single mothers were told that to seek their children who had been separated from them, and the same was said to their sons and daughters, that this was a mortal sin. This is not a mortal sin. We ask for forgiveness,” Pope Francis said.

He prayed that God would “sustain and increase this state of shame and give us the strength to work for justice”.

Cancer sufferer Emma Mhic Mhathuna brought up one of the offertory gifts to the altar during the Papal Mass.

Ms Mhic Mhathuna, who is one of the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal, was accompanied by her five children.

Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Collins Courts
Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Collins Courts

The procession also involved Olive Foley, widow of former Ireland rugby international and Munster head coach, Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley, and their children, Dan and Tony.

The Mass in front of hundreds of thousands of people marks the end of Pope Francis’s two-day visit to Ireland.

A 12-hour programme is taking place at the Phoenix Park exploring faith through music, reflections, video and drama will entertain pilgrims as they arrive to and make their way home from the Phoenix Park.

Pilgrims arriving in the Phoenix Park for Pope Francis closing Mass.
Picture By David Conachy.
Pilgrims arriving in the Phoenix Park for Pope Francis closing Mass. Picture By David Conachy.

Prelude in the Park will feature national and international performers from Ireland, England, America, Germany, Austria, France, India, Canada and USA.

Among the performers are Eimear Quinn, Daniel O'Donnell, Derek Ryan, Paddy Maloney, Comholtas as well as Christian Performers Rexband from India, Rend Collective from Northern Ireland will feature. 

Other performers include Audrey Assad, Factor One – Dublin, Aris Choir, Dublin Gospel Choir, YOUCAT Foundation, KisiKids, Fr. Ray Kelly, I Am – Worship Band from Derry, Donna Taggart, O Neill Sisters from Kerry.

Father Liam Lawton, liturgical composer and priest of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, will sing the psalm, The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor, which he has composed for the Papal Mass.

Father Liam will be joined by a 3,000 strong papal Mass choir that has been brought together for the Mass.

The first reading will be read ‘as Gaeilge’ by Marie Wheldon from Clontarf, who was involved in the new Irish language translation of ‘An Leabhar Aifreann’.

Teresa Menendez, originally from Argentina and marketing manager for the World Meeting of Families 2018, will read the second reading in Spanish.

At the end of the Papal Mass, Pope Francis said the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome in 2021.

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