Women with children by priests 'not treated properly' - bishop
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has acknowledged that some women who have had children with Catholic priests have "not been treated properly" and that the priests involved must shoulder their responsibilities.
Speaking to the Irish Independent at the launch of the year-long preparation programme for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin next August and a visit by Pope Francis, Dr Martin said the responsibilities of a priest who fathers a child were "no different to any other person's".
He said that while every situation was different, the clerics "must take responsibility" for their children.
Referring to new guidelines recently produced by the Irish bishops on this issue and published on the website www.copinginternational.com, an organisation set up by 44-year-old Vincent Doyle, the son of Irish priest Fr JJ Doyle, Archbishop Martin highlighted that he had paid for the website.
Referring to his meeting with some children of priests, he said: "You have to understand they are going through the normal search about their own identity and the need to know something about their own personal identity.
"Pope Francis himself has said that the natural right of a child to know his father is more important than the positive law of celibacy," the archbishop, who is President of the World Meeting of Families, said.
Of Pope Francis's visit to Ireland next year for the closing Mass on August 26, 2018 at the World Meeting of Families, the Archbishop said the Argentinian pontiff had told him of his wish to come to Dublin.
But he stressed that the visit would be very different to the last papal visit in 1979.
"When Pope John Paul came to Ireland he was 60; when Pope Francis comes, he will be over 80. So, I think we have to look at a very different style and scale."
He also stressed that Pope Francis "will come to a very different Ireland than Pope John Paul".
Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe said there was a "buzz" at the Fleadh in Ennis at the weekend as people were very aware of the World Meeting of Families because of "the hope that the Pope will be here for it".
Dublin was personally chosen by Pope Francis to host the international Catholic gathering from August 21 to 26, 2018, the theme of which will be 'The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World'. The three-day congress will include exhibitions, musical performances and liturgical events around Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland.
The highpoint is a solemn Eucharistic celebration which will be presided over by Pope Francis and attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims from Ireland and around the world.
More than 1,000 volunteers have already signed up to help with the organisation of the international gathering which is expected to see more than 5,000 families travel from around the world.
For the first time, those under the age of 18 will be able to participate for free.