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Varadkar urges Pope to provide full disclosure on child abuse by priests

Pope Francis is due to visit the country this weekend.

Updated Aug 24th 2018, 7:25 PM

leoLeo VaradkarSource: RTÉ News/Twitter

LEO VARADKAR HAS said the Catholic Church still has a role to play in Irish society but shouldn’t determine public policy.

Speaking to BBC News ahead of Pope Francis’ visit this weekend, the Taoiseach said the Church had “too much of a dominant place in our society” in the past.

“I think it still has a place in our society but not one that determines public policy or determines our laws.”

Varadkar said the Papal visit would provide an opportunity for Pope Francis to speak to those abused by members of the clergy or in Church-run institutions.

“It is an opportunity for him to say something to the women and children in particular who were victims of the Church’s institutions — to reiterate the apologies that he’s given in the past but also to demonstrate that things are going to change into the future,” he stated.

Speaking on Sky News, Varadkar said more must be done by the Church to repair the trust it has broken.

He said: “It is my wish that we can open a new chapter in relations between Ireland, the Irish State and the Catholic Church.

“One that is more equal, that is more respectful and one that is more modern. Also of course, I will want to talk about human rights issues and issues relating to child sex abuse and the mistreatment of children and women by the Church and its institutions – often with the collusion of the State, we should bear in mind – in the past.”

Pope Francis is due to meet victims of clerical sexual abuse during his two-day visit.

Excluded 

In a separate interview with RTÉ News, Varadkar said some Catholics feel excluded from the Church because of its treatment of women, or because they are divorced or from an LGBT+ background.

I know that really hurts for them.

Varadkar said he wants to talk to Pope Francis about this topic in a way that respects religious freedom, adding: “It’s not the role of the head of government to ask any church … to change its faith.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend events involving Pope Francis in Dublin and Knock this weekend, the largest of which will be a Mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday.

A large crowd is also due to attend Stand for Truth, a demonstration in solidarity with Church abuse survivors, which is due to take place at 3pm on Sunday in Dublin city centre to coincide with the Mass.

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Órla Ryan

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