Pope compares Church sexual abuse, corruption to excrement, victims say

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

Pope Francis spent 90 minutes meeting Irish survivors of child sex abuse allegedly perpetrated by members of the clergy.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who previous year became Ireland's first gay leader, told Francis that the wounds of clerical child abuse that stained the Irish state were still open and there was much to be done to bring about justice and healing for victims. 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.

Francis on Saturday also met eight 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.

Vigano's letter railed against "homosexual networks present in the Church" - the word "homosexual" appears 18 times, while the word "child" appears only twice, in both cases in the titles of Church documents Vigano sites.

Michael D Higgins also told Pope Francis of the anger felt by those in Ireland who were abused as children by Catholic clerics.

He is due to make a speech at Dublin Castle around lunchtime on Saturday, shortly after meeting Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He refused to lay the blame for abuse of children exclusively at the hands of the Church, arguing that abuse carried out in the "Magdalene Laundries, Mother, and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse are stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church".

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"There is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors".

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.

Francis' first speech in Ireland on Saturday is an address to Irish government officials and civil society, where he will likely refer to the scandal.

The country has since undergone fundamental social change, becoming more secular - electing a gay prime minister and voting to legalise same-sex marriage and abortion.

Large images of abuse victims and the hashtag #Stand4Truth - promoting a gathering of survivors and supporters elsewhere in Dublin during Sunday's mass - were projected onto some of the city's most recognised buildings on Friday night, including Dublin's Pro Cathedral.

"I think it's absolutely marvellous".

Amnesty Ireland Executive Director Colm O'Gorman said on Twitter that Francis "had the flawless opportunity to address the abuse issue".

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The pope later attended a Festival of Families in Croke Park Stadium with more than 82,000 people in attendance.

Meanwhile, memories of Ireland's own abuse scandal are still vivid.

They urged Pope Francis to reassure "elderly and dying" natural mothers and adoptees that there was no sin in the reunion.

Multiple probes in Ireland have found Church leaders protected hundreds of predatory priests and former Irish president Mary McAleese revealed this month that the Vatican had sought to keep Church documents inaccessible to government investigators.

More than 37,000 people — a lot of them young Catholics — signed up to attend the event, more than twice the number who did when the family rally was held in Philadelphia three years ago.

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 in Phoenix Park.

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