Pope says ‘Those who abuse children are filth from the toilet’

Penitent Pope Francis describes paedophile priest cover-up as ‘Caca – filth one sees in the toilet’ while meeting with Irish victims before telling 82,000 fans at Croke Park stadium that ‘to hate is human, to forgive is divine’

  • Pope Francis acknowledged the ‘grave scandal’ of sex abuse while Ireland’s PM told him to ‘listen to victims’ 
  • The 81-year-old touched down in Dublin and met the President this morning at the start of his two-day visit  
  • Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to go to Ireland but since then the country has embraced LGBT rights

Pope Francis has met victims of abuse and mistreatment in Ireland, telling them that those who abuse children were the equivalent of human excrement. 

He spent 90 minutes speaking with eight Irish survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse during the first papal visit to Ireland since 1979. 

The Pontiff told of the two abuse survivors that ‘those involved in corruption and cover up within the church are ‘caca”, with his translator clarifying: ‘Literally filth as one sees in the toilet’.    

Pope Francis spoke with the group before attending a Festival of Families celebration yesterday at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, where he received a standing ovation after telling the 82,500-strong crowd that ‘to hate is human, to forgive is divine’.

He was greeted by enthusiastic nuns hoisting papal flags and performing Mexican waves at the event, where he stressed the importance of family, and warned people of the ‘threat’ social media poses to relationships.

He said social media should ‘never become a threat to the real life relationships by imprisoning us in a virtual reality and isolating us from the very real relationships that challenge us to grow.

‘When you use social media too much you go into a sort of an orbit when, at the dinner table, instead of talking to each other within the family, each of you uses his phone to connect with the outside world.

‘You go into an orbit. This is dangerous. Why? Because it takes away the completeness of the family and… takes us to a fuzzy life without any substance.’

An estimated 82,500 people turned out to Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium on Saturday evening for the Festival of Families. The concert-type event was held to mark the end of the World Meeting of Families 2018, including performances by Andrea Bocelli, The Riverdance Troupe, Nathan Carter, Dana Masters and Daniel O’Donnell

Not all guests at the event were enthralled by the pope’s speech, as some children on stage yawned and struggled to keep awake

Pope Francis told those at the Festival of Families: ‘In every society, families generate peace, because they teach the virtues of love, acceptance and forgiveness that are the best antidote to the hatred, prejudice and vengeance that can poison the life of individuals and communities’

The pope also advised families that to get along in life, they needed to repeat three words: ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. He said it was important that family members made peace with each other before going to bed at night

‘When you use social media too much you go into a sort of an orbit when, at the dinner table, instead of talking to each other within the family, each of you uses his phone to connect with the outside world,’ the animated pontiff said

Andrea Bocelli performs during the Festival of Families in Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, August 25

Nuns listen intently to Pope Francis at the two-hour-long festival, which was choreographed as a celebration of family life, featuring music, song, dance, and spoken word

Grandparents were praised as a ‘treasury of experience and wisdom for the new generation’ by the pontiff, who added, ‘it is a big mistake not to ask the elderly about their experience or to think that talking to them is a waste of time’

Pope Francis waves and shakes hands with some in the audience as he leaves after attending the Festival of Families at Croke Park during his visit to Dublin

Windy: Bodyguards surrounding the pope help to put his cape back in place after a gust blows it over his head as he leaves the stadium in Dublin

The evening included a performance of Riverdance by 500 children from dance schools around Ireland, and entertainment from local and international artists – joined by an orchestra of more than 50 musicians – including Andrea Bocelli.

The two-hour-long festival was choreographed as a celebration of family life, featuring music, song, dance, and spoken word. 

The pope arrived at Croke Park for the mammoth festival flanked by burly bodyguards, after spending 90 minutes speaking with eight Irish survivors of abuse. The private meeting was hosted at the Papal Nuncio’s residence in Dublin, hours after he acknowledged that Irish people had a right to be outraged by the church’s response to the crimes.

The enthusiastic crowd’s standing ovation rounded off the pope’s first day in Ireland, which has seen him speak of his ‘pain and shame’ at the ‘grave scandal’ of clerical sex abuse amid protests over the Catholic Church scandal – as thousands of admirers crowded the streets of Dublin to wave and watch him go by in his custom-made Popemobile.

Who’s with me? This nun tries to encourage others to take part in a Mexican wave, while awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis at the Festival of Families in Dublin. Nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth, Sister Francis Kelly and Sister Celine went to Ireland for the event and said the concert was the perfect end to an excellent week

Nuns looking happy and getting into the spirit of the festival, while awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin

Surrounded by burly bodyguards as he enters Croke Park in his golf buggy, Pope Francis acknowledges the mammoth crowd

Surrounded by bodyguards, Pope Francis greets people upon his arrival at Croke Park, Dublin, on August 25

The two-hour festival was choreographed as a celebration of family life, with music, song, dance, and spoken word

Pope Francis waves to the mammoth crowd as he arrives at the Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, on Saturday, August 25, while on a two-day visit to Ireland

Pope Francis waves to an audience of 82,500 at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin during the Festival of Families event in Ireland

Selfie sticks were banned, along with flares, professional cameras and alcohol – but this lucky young woman managed to get an extra-special photo with Pope Francis on her phone

The festival programme included community-based artists as well as some well-known local and international artists, including Andrea Bocelli, joined by an orchestra of over 50 musicians and contemporary dancers

The pontiff said victims had a right to be outraged at the ‘repellent crimes’ against young people, while Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar urged him to ‘listen to the victims’, saying the history of abuse had left a legacy of ‘sorrow and shame’. 

The Vatican says Pope Francis has met with eight survivors of clerical and institutional abuse on the first day of his trip to Ireland, which is ground zero for the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis met with the group for about 90 minutes this evening. Among the victims was Marie Collins, a prominent survivor who served on Francis’ advisory board but quit in frustration last year. She has since become a harsh critic of the Vatican, and occasionally the pope.

Holding a papal flag, this girl also attended tonight’s Festival of Families, a special concert-type event

Croke Park, Dublin: Pope Francis is the 266th Catholic Pope and current sovereign of the Vatican. His visit, the first by a pope since John Paul II’s in 1979, was expected to attract hundreds of thousands of Catholics to a series of events in Dublin and Knock

The crowd gestures upon the arrival of Pope Francis to attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin on August 25. An estimated 82,500 attended the event

A sea of arms as scores of people wave frantically at Pope Francis as he visits Dublin today. During his two-day visit he has held private meetings with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy

Fancy footwork as young dancers, some of the 500 representing Irish dance schools across the country, performed on stage for the pope at the Festival of Families

More aerial manoeuvres at Dublin’s Croke Park – part of a strong line-up of creative and performance talent in a cast of thousands

The crowds and performers at the Festival of Families event, attended by an estimated 82,500 people in Dublin. The celebration of family life heard a number of tributes and testimonials about the importance of prioritising the role of families, especially those with young children

The 81-year-old landed in Dublin this morning on an Alitalia flight from Rome – flying with the call sign ‘Shepherd One’ – to begin the first visit by a Pope to Ireland since John Paul II visited in 1979.

He greeted a country where Catholic loyalties are declining and which recently distanced itself further from the Vatican’s teaching with a referendum vote to legalise abortion, three years after similar backing for same-sex marriage. This afternoon he met Ireland’s first gay prime minister.

Tens of thousands gathered in Dublin as he passed through in his Popemobile, a Skoda Rapid model, waving and smiling to the crowds on Dame Street. But demonstrators also assembled around the city to protest against clerical crimes, amid a row over the Vatican’s response to similar claims of institutional abuse in America.

Well-wishers line the streets as Pope Francis travels through the streets of Dublin in his Popemobile on his visit to Ireland 

Pope Francis delivers a speech in St Patrick’s Hall at Dublin Castle where he spoke about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, saying he felt ‘pain and shame’ at the failure of church authorities to tackle the ‘grave scandal’ of clerical abuse in Ireland

The 81-year-old Pope Francis waves from his car at Dublin International Airport as he begins the first papal visit to Ireland since John Paul II went to the country in 1979

The pope’s cape blows in the wind as he walks down the steps of his plane in Dublin today 

more videos

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

    • Watch video

      Cop screams for help as security guard simply films confrontation

    • Watch video

      Model strikes panhandler with fatal blow from bat at gas station

    • Watch video

      Hearse is seen at John McCain’s ranch in Arizona

    • Watch video

      Intern sprints out of court to break news on Manafort conviction

    • Watch video

      Jeff Leach tells story of when Asia Argento sent him nudes

    • Watch video

      Scott Morrison addresses the media after becoming Prime Minister

    • Watch video

      Corbyn accuses British Zionists of having no sense of English irony

    • Watch video

      Senator John McCain dies at 81: Take a look back at his life

    • Watch video

      American Media CEO David Pecker granted immunity in Cohen probe

    • Watch video

      John McCain, political maverick and war hero dies at 81

    • Watch video

      Creepy video shows child’s reflection ‘walk away quicker than he did’

    • Watch video

      Trump and Melania tour Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus

    Speaking at St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle, the Pope said: ‘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.’ 

    ‘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. 

    He also praised his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for tackling the issue, saying: ‘His frank and decisive intervention continues to serve as an incentive for the efforts of the church’s leadership both to remedy past mistakes and to adopt stringent norms meant to ensure that they do not happen again.’ 

    Mr Varadkar said he hoped the papal visit would mark a ‘new chapter’ in Ireland’s relationship with the Catholic Church.

    In his speech to the pope at Dublin Castle, he said both church and state had a history of ‘sorrow and shame,’ and he urged the pope to ensure that victims of sex abuse find ‘justice and truth and healing’.

    Varadkar cited the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over 70 years in six dioceses, in urging Francis to ‘ensure that from words flow actions’.

    • Pope to pray before relics of Ireland’s ‘holy drinker’ Matt…

      British tourists are hunted by Italian police after…

      A third of families in Ireland no longer fit the Catholic…

    Share this article

    ‘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,’ Varadkar said. ‘It’s a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland.’

    The taoiseach added: ‘The Ireland of the 21st century is a very different place today than it was in the past. Ireland is increasingly diverse.  

    ‘One in six of us were not born here and there are more and more people who adhere to other faiths, or who are comfortable in declaring that they subscribe to no organised religion.

    ‘We have voted in our parliament and by referendum to modernise our laws – understanding that marriages do not always work, that women should make their own decisions and that families come in many forms including those headed by a grandparent, lone parent or same-sex parents or parents who are divorced.’

    He added: ‘Holy Father, I believe that the time has now come for us to build a new relationship between church and state in Ireland – a new covenant for the 21st century. It is my hope that your visit marks the opening of a new chapter in the relationship between Ireland and the Catholic Church.

    ‘Building on our intertwined history, and learning from our shared mistakes, it can be one in which religion is no longer at the centre of our society, but in which it still has an important place.’  

    The Popemobile and its convoy drive through the streets of Dublin today greeted by cheering crowds of well-wishers 

    Pope Francis waves to the faithful on his popemobile in Dublin where thousands of people greeted the 81-year-old pontiff

    Pope Francis greets the public as he travels through the city in the Popemobile, a converted Skoda Rapid, on Saturday

    Pope Francis waves to admirers as his Popemobile carries the 81-year-old pontiff through the streets of Dublin today 

    Pope Francis travels in the Popemobile as he passes the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin on Saturday 

    Pope praises Northern Ireland peace process 

     The Pope has said he hopes every remaining obstacle to Northern Ireland’s peace process will be overcome.

    He addressed an audience at Dublin Castle which included political figures from north of the border as well as Secretary of State Karen Bradley, and Good Friday Agreement peace deal architect George Mitchell.

    Northern Ireland’s powersharing administration at Stormont has been suspended for months in a row over identity issues like the Irish language, 20 years after a landmark accord largely ended violence.

    The pontiff said the Irish Government, alongside leaders in Northern Ireland and Britain, had created a ‘dynamic’ context for the peaceful settlement through the Agreement of a conflict which had caused ‘untold pain’ on both sides.

    He added: ‘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.’

    Ms Bradley said the Pope was very serious and humble on the subject.

    ‘It was good to hear him saying what he said and confronting it so openly,’ she said.


    It came as the head of Ireland’s Catholic church said the Pope was facing an ‘impossible task’ to address grievances over historic sexual abuse. 

    Pope Francis has said he will meet with victims of clerical sex abuse in private, but protesters have gathered near Dublin Castle following criticism of the Vatican for its slow response to claims of systemic abuse in Pennsylvania.

    Archbishop Eamon Martin said survivors were carrying a ‘trauma’ which the Pope’s visit would not be able to heal, Sky News reported.  ‘We have no right to think that we can leave it behind us,’ he said.  

    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, including his meetings today with President Michael D Higgins and the joint speeches with Mr Varadkar. 

    With Ireland in the midst of a high-profile homelessness problem, the Pope was this afternoon to meet with a number of affected individuals during a private visit to families at the Capuchin Day Centre, run by a religious order that provides over 700 meals a day. 

    Tens of thousands of people were expected to line the streets of Dublin city centre on Saturday afternoon as he passes through in his famous Popemobile. 

    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 well-wishers outside Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

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

    In 1979, Pope John Paul II was due to visit Our Lady of Lourdes church but famously failed to stop when his Popemobile tour of city fell behind schedule. 

    The present pontiff continued to St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral where he spoke to local couples after praying at an altar which houses a perpetually lit candle for the victims of sexual abuse.  

    The Pope said that looking at the congregation comprising hundreds of young couples, he questioned those that claimed people no longer wanted to get married.

    ‘Getting married and sharing your lives is a beautiful thing,’ he told them. 

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

    The Pope puts his hand to his head before he speaks alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin today 

    Pope Francis, centre, is flanked by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, right, as they arrive to make speeches in Dublin today

    Pope Francis meets with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Dublin Castle where they spoke about historical sex abuse 

    Pope Francis meets the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne at Aras an Uachtarain, the official presidential residence

    A protester holds a sign criticising the Catholic Church’s handling of institutionalised sex abuse 

    People queuing on Gardiner Street, Dublin, on Saturday as they wait to attend the papal mass at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

    Francis travels on board the Popemobile on a procession through Dublin were large crowds turned out to see the pontiff  

    Crowds holding flags of the Vatican and the Republic of Ireland decorated with the Pope’s face await Francis’s arrival 

    Pope Francis arrives for a visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin to meet with recently-married couples

    The Pope leaves the cathedral in Dublin after meeting with recently-married couples before going on a drive through the city

    Pope Francis speaking in St Patricks Hall in Dublin Castle on Saturday where he confronted the issue of Catholic sex abuse 

    Pope Francis speaks in St Patrick’s Hall where he addressed the issue of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church 

    Pope Francis kisses a young girl at the end of his meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Saturday 

    Pope Francis presents Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with a gift as they meet at Dublin Castle on Saturday afternoon 

    The Pope emerges in Dublin where he will travel through the city on his Popemobile later on Saturday. Planes carrying him have the code name ‘Shepherd One’

    This morning he planted a tree at Aras an Uachtarain, the presidential residence, during his meeting with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins. 

    Other dignitaries who have planted trees on the lawn at Aras an Uachtarain include Presidents John F Kennedy and Eamon de Valera, the Queen and President Barack Obama. 

    Mr Higgins also raised the issue of child sex abuse with Pope Francis during his visit, speaking of anger at those who had the responsibility of bringing abuse to the authorities and have not done so.

    A spokesman for Mr Higgins said that during the meeting, the Irish President raised with the pope the ‘immense suffering and hurt caused by child sex abuse perpetrated by some within the Catholic Church’.  

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

    Multiple investigations have found that probes finding Catholic Church leaders protected hundreds of predatory priests over decades.   

    Pope Francis is greeted by members of the clergy and representatives of the Irish Government

    Pope Francis arrives at Dublin International Airport on Saturday for his two-day visit to Ireland

    The Pope waves ahead of a visit where he is expected to face criticism over clerical sex abuse

    Pope Francis is driven away after arriving at Dublin International Airport on Saturday morning

    What is the papal car ‘Popemobile’? 

    Since the 1930s, many Popes have used various types of Mercedes with the special number plate SCV 1.

    However, it wasn’t until Pope John Paul II that the Popemobile became internationally recognised due to the level of international travel he took.

    The Popemobiles gained new protection after John Paul II was hit several times by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca who opened fire in St Peter’s Square in May 1981.

    During his 1982 visit to Britain, Pope John Paul II had a highly modified Leyland truck to transport him. It weighed 24 tonnes and was able to survive small-arms fire.

    Pope Benedict used a highly modified armoured Mercedes G Wagon capable of driving at speeds of up to 160mph.

    However, after his election, Pope Francis initially refused to travel in the Popemobile and instead went on the bus with his cardinals.

    Other prominent critics of the church’s teaching on social issues were present in the invited audience at Dublin Castle.

    They included former Irish president Mary McAleese, an opponent of the church’s stance on LGBT issues.  

    Colm O’Gorman, who was a victim of sex abuse and leads Amnesty International in the Republic, said the Pope’s address was a ‘missed opportunity’.

    He added: ‘It is staggering to me that in 2018 we are still asking a Pope to take responsibility, not for his own actions necessarily, but for the actions of the institution that he heads.

    ‘It is mind-boggling to me that to ask a Pope to tell the damned truth is a radical thing to suggest.’  

    The Vatican was rocked this month by a devastating US report into child sex abuse that accused more than 300 priests in the state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s. 

    Today the Pope was met on the red carpet by deputy head of government Simon Coveney and his children, who presented him with a bouquet of white and yellow roses with Irish foliage. 

    Mr Coveney said acknowledged that many people had mixed feelings about the visit, saying: ‘I think it’s been difficult for many people, for victims, for Catholics and many of the clergy.

    ‘But I hope and expect that this weekend will be a very powerful moment. He has a personality that can reach out to Irish people.’     

    Children’s shoes and toys are left strewn on the pavement during the visit of Pope Francis to Dublin. The shoes have been tied with black mourning ribbon as part of the continued demand for justice and ‘an end to systematic clerical child abuse, cover up… and persecution of survivors,’ said Baby Shoes Remember – a group which has organised a silent protest this weekend

    Protesters hold up a banner attacking the Catholic Church’s role in historic sex abuse as the Pope travels through Dublin 

    Pope Francis during his visit to St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, as part of his visit to Ireland this weekend

    Pope Francis prays in front of a candle lit to remember victims of abuse by the church, inside St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

    Pope Francis sprinkling holy water upon arrival at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in the latest leg of his visit to Dublin

    Pope Francis arrives at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, in Dublin on Saturday where he made his second address of the day 

    Pope Francis arrives for a visit to St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin to meet with recently-married couples

    Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with Irish President Michael D Higgins, at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin, as part of his visit to Ireland

    Pope Francis is greeted by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone (right) as he meets President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (right) at the presidential residence on Saturday 

    Pope Francis follows in predecessor John Paul II’s footsteps plants a tree during a meeting with the Irish President

    Pope Francis signs a guest book next to Ireland’s President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina during his visit in Dublin 

    A view of Pope Francis’s message that he left when signing the visitors book during a meeting with President of Ireland Michael Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain. It reads: ‘With gratitude for the warm welcome I have received, I assure you and the people of Ireland of my prayers that Almighty God may guide and protect you all. Francis’

    The 81-year-old Pope and the 77-year-old President of Ireland are seen together at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin

    Pope Francis meets Irish trade minister Simon Coveney and his children at Dublin airport 

    Francis speaks to the trade minister, his wife Ruth and his children Beth, Jessica and Annalise

    One of the Irish trade minister’s daughters hands flowers to the Pope as he steps off the plane

    Pope Francis is greeted by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin on Saturday morning

    A Navy band march prior to the arrival of Pope Francis at the Presidential residence in Dublin

    The band marches in Dublin where Pope Francis will meet President Michael D Higgins

    The head of Ireland’s Catholic church, Eamon Martin (pictured centre) said the Pope was facing an ‘impossible task’ to address grievances over historic sexual abuse

    Eddie McGuinness from Dublin LGBTQ Pride carries a rainbow flag across Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin ahead of the start of the visit to Ireland

    In his speech today the Pope also addressed the issue of Northern Ireland, praising those who helped forged the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

    He 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.’  

    On Sunday 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.

    Yellow and white flags of the Vatican were flying along the River Liffey on Saturday morning to mark the Papal visit.   

    Some of the reaction on Twitter to the papal visit to Ireland this weekend, including these tweets about white road markings heralding Pope Francis’s visit

    Above: in this photo provided by Vatican Media, Pope Francis is shown greeting people at the Capuchin Day Centre for homeless families this afternoon. The pope blessed those present, and praised the Capuchin monks running the centre, saying: ‘They help you without taking away your dignity’

    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. 

    However it was reported earlier this week that some protesters were planning to buy dozens or even hundreds of tickets and then leave the seats empty. 

    The Pontiff 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.

    Referendums to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage have loosened the Catholic influence and earlier this week it emerged that one in three Irish families no longer meet the Vatican’s definition of a nuclear ‘family’.  

    ‘The Catholic Church is still very much part of our society but not at the centre of it as it was 40 years ago,’ Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who last year became Ireland’s first gay leader, told the BBC ahead of the visit.

    ‘Ireland has become a very different place in the last 40 years and our relationship with the Church has changed principally because of so many revelations that have occurred around child sex abuse.’ 

    The Rainbow Choir, which is made up of LGBT singers, is protesting in Dublin against the exclusion of gay people and their families from the World Meeting Of Families (WMOF).  

    Protesters hold banners during a demonstration against clerical sex abuse in Dublin today

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

    A protester holds up an anti-Pope sign, holding baby shoes to signify the children who died in mother and baby homes in Ireland, at a protest in Dublin ahead of the Pope’s arrival

    Protestors holding a banner demonstrate against abuse in the Catholic church during the Pope’s first day in Ireland 

    Two women wait for Pope Francis to drive past as he begins the first papal visit to the Republic of Ireland for almost 40 years

    Pope Francis talks to a journalist on board the Alitalia flight from Rome to Dublin on Saturday 

    The Pope sits in the back of a car earlier on Saturday as he made his way to the Rome airport 

    Among its supporters are Maria Angalika Fromm, from Germany, who has worked for 50 years for a changed church and said the Pope needed to persist with reforms.

    She said: ‘He needs to break down the patriarchal structures and be open to women’s ordination without celibacy and caring for all people including gay and lesbian.

    ‘He has to go on and not be stopped by the old conservative men in the Vatican.’ 

    Soline Humbert, from Versailles near Paris and aged 62, was a steward at the last papal visit in 1979 looking after lost children.

    She works with Women’s Ordination Worldwide and said Vatican files on abuse should be opened.

    She said: ‘Unless the truth comes out, and we know that as Christians, and we know that as Catholics, there is no movement forward, there is no resurrection, there is no transformation and trust cannot be re-established until the truth is acknowledged.

    ‘It is very painful and it will be very disturbing but the truth is buried in the bottom, in the secret archives, of a lot of dioceses and especially in the Vatican.

    ‘The Pope does need to acknowledge that it was the policy of the Vatican to prevent scandal, and by scandal I mean that the abuse would come to the surface.’ 

    Pope John Paul II, Francis’s predecessor-but-one, waves from his plane as he leaves Shannon Airport of Ireland in 1979

    John Paul waves from his Popemobile at Phoenix Park in Ireland, in 1979, the same venue where Francis will appear tomorrow

    John Paul in 1979 addressing the enormous crowds at Phoenix Park in Dublin. He had been elected Pope the previous year 

    Source: Read Full Article