Pope 'ashamed' by Church's abuse failures

Derry MEP to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland this weekend

Ireland has grappled with its own history of abuse, with multiple probes finding Catholic Church leaders protected hundreds of predatory priests over decades.

One survivor, Colm O'Goram, told RTE that he was disappointed in the pope's speech.

It is the first papal visit to Ireland in 39 years.

Today, Ireland is no longer staunchly Catholic and over the past three years, voters have approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the will of the Church.

It is believed that the meeting lasted for 90 minutes, and that Pope Francis offered an apology to survivors. "I myself share those sentiments", he said.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar concurred, saying the church stepped in to care for Irish children when the state did not.

Varadkar went on to speak about the "judgement, severity and cruelty" that has been suffered by women and children in Ireland.

"There can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate that abuse", said Varadkar.

A devastating report earlier this month accused more than 300 priests in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.

Pope Francis during a tree planting ceremony with President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (2nd R) and his wife Sabina Coyne (R) at Aras an Uachtarain on August 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

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"He could have talked to the people of Ireland beyond those who might identify as faithful Catholics; he could have talked to us all in a way that was blunt, that was clear, that was frank, that was human and that was accessible", he finished.

The protest invites anyone who has "been harmed or abused by the Roman Catholic Church or who wishes to stand in solidarity with those harmed by its actions" to join the event at 3 pm at The Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. They are asking him to publicly state that their mothers had done nothing wrong and to encourage reconciliation between all unwed mothers, many of them now aged, who were forced by society and the church to give up their children.

The Holy Father reportedly agreed to do so when he leads up to half a million people in mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park on Sunday.

After arriving at Dublin Airport he will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of Irish President Michael Higgins, where he will plant a tree and the two will have a private meeting.

The Popemobile then travelled along Westmoreland Street and Dame Street before dropping the Pope off at Capuchin Day Centre where he met with those affected by the homelessness crisis in Dublin.

With the reverberations of a litany of church sex abuse scandals casting a shadow over the first papal visit to Ireland in nearly 40 years, Francis confronted the issue in his address inside the castle's St Patrick's Hall.

More than three-quarters of the Irish population flocked to see Pope John Paul II in 1979 at a time when divorce and contraception were illegal. It is his prayer, he said, that as the country listens to the contemporary political and social discussion, it will not forget its Christian heritage.

He said the time had come "for us to build a new, more mature relationship between church and state in Ireland - a new covenant for the 21st century".

On Saturday evening, he presided over a Festival of Families concert in Dublin's Croke Park stadium, which drew a crowd of about 80,000 people.

On Sunday he is due to visit the Marian shrine at Knock, where a vision of the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to villagers in 1879, before conducting a Papal Mass in Phoenix Park.

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