Sexual Abuse: Pope Begs For God’s Forgiveness

  • Angry Over Forced Adoptions In Ireland

Pope Francis in Ireland Sunday “begged for God’s forgiveness” for the child sexual abuse scandal rocking the church but faced accusations by a former Vatican official that he had personally ignored allegations against senior clergy.

Francis is due to speak in front of some 500,000 faithful in Dublin’s Phoenix Park as part of his two-day visit to the former Catholic stronghold of Ireland, as abuse victims and their supporters gathered in a “Stand for Truth” rally in the city centre to demand justice.

During Sunday’s address to 45,000 supporters at the rain-soaked Knock shrine in the west of the country, the pope “begged for God’s forgiveness” for the “open wound” of the scandal and demanded “firm and decisive” measures to find “truth and justice”.

The scandal has dogged the visit, and intensified overnight when a former Vatican envoy to the US accused Francis of personally ignoring sexual abuse claims against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was forced to resign last month.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote in a letter published in the National Catholic Register that he had told Francis of the allegations in 2013, but that he had responded by lifting sanctions imposed on McCarrick by predecessor Pope Benedict.

“He (Pope Francis) knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator,” wrote Vigano,” adding “he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.”

The Vatican said it had no comment to make on the claims.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Saturday directly urged the pope to take action against abuses and ensure justice for victims worldwide.

Francis said inaction over “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 on Saturday also met eight abuse victims, including a woman assaulted by a priest when she was in hospital aged 13 and a man who was illegally adopted because his mother was unmarried.

In a strongly-worded speech at the start of the pope’s visit, Varadkar said the abuses in Ireland were “stains” on the Catholic Church, the state and Irish society as a whole.

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

He demanded of Francis “that from words flow actions”.

Paul Jude Redmond, who was illegally adopted from a Church-run “Mother and Baby Home” and met the pope on Saturday, said the pontiff appeared “genuinely shocked” by the stories of abuse.

But at a news conference in Dublin on Saturday by the group Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), victim Mark Vincent Healey said the pope’s speech in Dublin was a “total missed opportunity”.

“We’re still waiting. We’re left with uncertain silence. When is he going to act? What is he going to do?”

This is the first papal visit to Ireland since John Paul II spoke in front of 1.5 million people during a visit in 1979.

The Church’s role and standing has been badly dented by the abuse scandals and the Irish have shed traditional Catholic mores, voting earlier this year to legalise abortion after approving same-sex marriage in 2015.

The pontiff is in Ireland to close the 2018 World Meeting of Families (WMOF) — a global Catholic gathering that addressed issues including the treatment of gay people in the Church.

…angry with Ireland over forced adoptions

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has condemned how Irish children were “robbed of their innocence and taken from their mothers” by Catholic Church-run institutions that put them up for adoption for the shame of having been born to unwed mothers.

Francis spoke out about Ireland’s haunting history of forced adoptions during a prayer on Sunday in Knock, the country’s main shrine in northwestern dedicated to Christ’s mother, Mary.

He did so after Saturday’s meeting with some of the adoptees, who urged him to denounce the practice, demand an apology from the religious sisters responsible and assure the mothers they could search now for their lost children without fear of sin.

Francis prayed that such abuses never occur again and for the church “to proceed with justice and reparation, where responsible, for the violence.”

Pope Francis has visited a famous shrine in Ireland and was to celebrate a Mass dedicated to families a day after an emotional meeting with victims of cleric sex abuse and some of Ireland’s thousands of forced adoptees.

Francis arrived in Knock, on Sunday, where he prayed and blessed thousands of jubilant Irish faithful, who gathered in raincoats under clouds.

The Catholic Pontiff’s first day in Ireland was dominated by the abuse scandal and Ireland’s fraught history of atrocities committed in the name of preserving the Catholic faith.

He received a lukewarm reception on the streets, but tens of thousands thronged Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium for a family rally and concert.

The U.S. sexual abuse scandal took on a new twist Sunday, with a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. purportedly penning a letter accusing Vatican officials of knowing about the sexual escapades of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick since 2000, but making him a cardinal anyway.

The letter was attributed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a staunch conservative.

Pope Francis later held an emotional meeting with Irish victims of clerical sex abuse and those wrenched away from their unwed mothers in forced adoptions demanded by Catholic authorities.

On Saturday, Francis spent 90 minutes meeting with victims of clerical and institutional abuse, including two people forcibly given up for adoption as newborns.

Clodagh Malone said Francis was “shocked” at what they told him and “he listened to each and every one of us with respect and compassion.”

The survivors asked Francis to speak out Sunday at Mass in Dublin to let all the mothers know that they did nothing wrong and that it wasn’t a sin — as church officials have told them to try to find their children later in life.

(NAN)

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