Pope asks Jesuits in Ireland to help address Clergy Sexual Abuse

The Pope meeting the Jesuits community in Ireland

Not on the program, but something that this Jesuit Pope normally manages to fit in, is a visit with the country’s Jesuits.

Pope Francis had a private meeting with over 60 Irish Jesuits at the Papal Nunciature in Dublin on August 25, 2018, where he greeted them and responded to various questions.

When Irish Provincial Father Leonard Moloney asked Pope Francis if there was anything the Irish Jesuits could help him with “in line with their Fourth Vow – special obedience to the pontiff,” Francis responded asking them directly “to help to address clerical sexual abuse, with the healing process and with the reparative work that needs to be done.”

Father Brendan McManus, photographer for the meeting, said: “It was an amazing day to be a Jesuit priest in Ireland and to meet the Pope.”

“He took time out from his busy schedule to meet briefly with the Irish Jesuits, and I was the Jesuit photographer. It made me sit up and ask myself: how can I help uncover abuse and also reach out to the victims for healing?

Fr. Brendan asked the Pope a question in Spanish: “How are you and the Church going to handle this clerical sex abuse scandal, because the impact which the handling of the abuse is having is killing us?”

The Pope responded by reiterating his commitment to eradicating it entirely. He emphasized the Jesuits helping him to fight clerical sex abuse and clearly spelled out the dangers of abuse of power.

The Pope, Fr. Brendan noted, urged the Jesuits “to be faithful in prayer and to ‘keep ourselves in consolation’, a Jesuit phrase meaning to be connected to the Spirit and to be compassion in the world.”

“On a personal level,” the priest said about the meeting, “it was overwhelming to be with the Pope; it was very emotional and heart-warming.”

When Father John Callanan asked how Pope Francis managed to keep his serenity, Francis said how important it is to keep a sense of humor is very important. He recalled former Superior General of the Jesuits Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach, who he noted was someone well known for his jovial and optimistic spirits.

Jesuit Scholastic Niall Leahy gave his overall impression of the meeting. “Given the circumstances of his visit, our meeting with the Holy Father inevitably made us painfully aware of some of the dark realities within the life of the church. But we were also consoled to witness how a mere man can courageously face these realities and carry the cross. Forme this was a paschal moment.”