Forgive us for the scandal of betrayal – Pope Francis

REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Francis on Sunday asked for forgiveness for the “scandal and betrayal” felt by victims of sexual exploitation by Catholic clergy as he toured Ireland where years of abuse scandals have shattered the Church’s former dominant role in society. On the first papal visit to Ireland in almost four decades, Francis met privately with eight victims of clerical, religious and institutional abuse on Saturday and said he would seek a greater commitment to eliminating this “scourge”

“None of us can fail to be moved by the stories of young people who suffered abuse, were robbed of their innocence and left scarred,” Francis told a crowd of tens of thousands at the Knock shrine in the west of Ireland on Sunday morning. “This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice. I beg forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God’s family,” he said, to applause from the crowd.

Earlier, the Director of Aid to the Church in Need Malta, Stephen Axisa, said that the people were looking forward to what the Pope had to say during his visit to Ireland. Axisa spoke in short phone interventions during news bulletins. He said that many people from around the world flocked to Ireland in order to see and listen to what Pope Francis. He described the enthusiastic crowds that were on the streets waiting for Pope Francis to pass by. He also remarked that many people were positively impacted by the whole experience and that many were giving positive comments.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines gave a speech which was described as emotional. He drew spoke of how the “disposable” culture was entering every aspect of a person’s life.

Pope Francis addressed some 370 couples at Dublin St Mary’s Cathedral where he spoke of reconciliation. He also spoke out against sexual abuse on minors by members of the clergy. Ireland’s church was rocked by such scandals in the past. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former high official at the Vatican and close to the Cardinal, lashed out publicly against the Pope’s teachings on the family and asked for his resignation.

(Report by with additional reportage by Reuters)