#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Saturday 5 December 2020


136,940 Views 121 Comments

THE POPE HAS ended his official two-day visit to Ireland.

There was a packed schedule for the pope today, with events starting at Knock Shrine in Co Mayo, before a mass at the Pope’s Cross in the Phoenix Park attended by thousands of people.

There were also a number of demonstrations around the country in solidarity with survivors of clerical abuse. Take a look back:

Good morning! It was an early start at Knock Shrine for people hoping to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. So far the weather has not been in their favour…

The pope is due at Knock Shrine at 9.45am and in the last few minutes he landed at Knock International Airport.

Meanwhile, Daragh Brophy reports there are 8km tailbacks in Mayo this morning.

Some 45,000 people applied for the free tickets to the pope’s Knock visit. Organisers were encouraging them to travel by coach, warning motorists that they would face a 3km walk to the event.

Pope Francis will only stay in Knock for about an hour. At the shrine he will lead the Angelus prayer – the time has been changed to fit his schedule.

If you are in Dublin, don’t forget that there are road closures – 80 in total – there too due to the mass at the Phoenix Park later.

Areas impacted include Ballyfermot, Chapelizod, Castleknock, Navan Road, Islandbridge, and the north and south quays.

People are advised to take public transport, but these services are expected to be very busy as the hundreds of thousands attending the mass will be using the bus and Luas to get there.

If you really need to get somewhere today, here’s our bumper guide for getting around.

The first of the mass goers are being allowed in to take their seats. It will be a long wait for them now though.

To coincide with the mass at the Phoenix Park later, we will also have an event at the the Garden of Remembrance. People will gather in solidarity with with survivors of clerical abuse.

Artists including Hozier, Roisin O from Thanks Brother and Liam O’Maonlai will perform at it.

And in Tuam, Co Galway, Catherine Corless has oraganised an event to remember everyone who died at the mother and baby home.

There was disappointment yesterday that the pope did not apologise or acknowledge a cover-up by the Church in his speech, though he did address the general topic of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

Last night, Darren McGavin, a survivor of abuse at the hands of former priest Tony Walsh called for greater accountability within the Catholic Church.

McGavin told a ‘Separate Church and State’ meeting at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel last night that he had hoped to meet with the pope during his visit “because I represent nine lads in Ballyfermot that died from suicide at the hands of Fr Tony Walsh”.

Pope Francis has now arrived in Knock village and is driving through in the Popemobile, thankfully not as quickly as he travelled through Dublin yesterday.

Source: RTE

We have an update from Daragh Brophy at the Phoenix Park:

“It was very wet indeed here at the site of the papal Mass, when we arrived shortly after 9am this morning.

“The weather has eased a bit now. There’s a steady stream of people arriving – but it’s mostly people involved in the ceremony at the moment (choirs, priests etc).

One women who’s singing today said she had walked to the papal cross from O’Connell Street. She was also at the concert at Croke Park last night and said she was delighted the pope had spent so long touring the playing field in his Popemobile.

“There’ll be more of that later, before the Mass itself starts at 3pm. The pope will be here at 2.30 and will, once again, tour the site on the back of his custom vehicle.

“There are reporters from around 30 countries in a giant media centre with 400 work areas – including lots of reporters from religious newspapers and broadcasters.”

Pilgrims in Knock are now joining the pope in a silent prayer.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Knock turned into a global pilgrimage site, we’ve got everything you need to know about the ‘strange occurrences’ here.

Next, Pope Francis will deliver a brief address to those gathered outside and will then lead them in the Angelus prayer, which will be in Latin.

Pope Francis is now addressing the crowd.

Source: Sky News

Speaking of his prayer to the Virgin Mary inside the chapel, he said: “I presented to her all the victims of abuse, of whatever kind, committed by members of the Church in Ireland.

“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 by painful memories. This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.

“I beg the lord’s forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many in God’s family. I ask our blessed mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.”

The pope is back in his Skoda, windows down, on his way back to the airport. He is a little behind schedule for this flight back to Dublin.

Source: RTÉ

RTÉ is speaking to the family who greeted the pope when he got off the plane in Knock. Mary McCarthy said “time stood still” when he came down the steps and stood in front of her.

Source: RTÉ

“I had to take the opportunity to kiss him on both cheeks, I didn’t think I’d ever get that opportunity.”

Pope Francis gave them each rosary beads and asked them to pray for him.

Abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman has been reacting to the pope’s address in Knock.

Remember O’Gorman has organised an event in support of abuse survivors this afternoon to coincide with the Phoenix Park mass. He said thousands of people are expected to attend.

Parish priest Fr Richard Gibbons, who is presiding over the pope’s visit to Knock, spoke to us as part of a report on the abortion referendum campaign back at the start of May.

We also visited the nearby small town of Kiltimagh, where we spoke to activists calling for a Yes vote in the referendum.

It’s worth a watch if you’re interested in knowing more about attitudes towards the Church in the area, and how they have changed since the last papal visit in ’79 and the 8th Amendment referendum in 1983.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

So, next on the itinerary for the pontiff is a lunch with the papal delegation, once he lands back in Dublin. And after that he will travel to the Phoenix Park – he is due to arrive there at 2.30pm.

Up to 500,000 people are expected to attend the mass.

Back in 1979, the last papal visit to Ireland, over 1.25 million people attended the mass in the Phoenix Park to see Pope John Paul II.

Source: IrishForeignMinistry/YouTube

Our reporter Nicky Ryan, who is at the Phoenix Park said there is a high level of security and people have been arriving since early this morning to get a good spot.

He and fellow roaming reporter Daragh Brophy are braving the rain to bring you updates from the park today.

They spoke to sisters Breda Regan and Pauline Lenihan who have brought the same chair their parents brought to the 1979 mass.

“I’ve kind of nostalgic reasons for coming. We’re born and bred Catholics, none of us are as good as we used to be in our youth but we’re still hanging in,” Pauline told them.

Good news from another early arrival Declan Brady, who said the journey there was “very easy”.

“There must have been about 30 or 40 buses waiting and we ended up coming in a bus on or own – we were probably first to leave Swords, there were only three of us on the bus. I’d say once the rain eases off, people will come in droves.”

“We’ve been walking for maybe about an hour and leisurely at that so it hasn’t been a problem,” he added.

We are not sure what is on the menu for the pope’s lunch this afternoon, but the reporters in the Phoenix Park are being well fed anyway…

Bring us back a bit of cake will you, Daragh?

We have some pictures now from the pope’s visit to Knock:

Source: Maxwells Dublin

Source: Maxwell Dublin

Source: Maxwells Dublin

Source: Maxwell Dublin


As we mentioned earlier, there has been criticism again today of the pope’s choice of words in relation to clerical abuse.

He made reference to survivors in his address to the crowd in Knock earlier, and begged for God’s forgiveness for “these sins”.

Source: Maxwells Dublin

Abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman pointed out that, again, the pope did not mention accountability “or the Vatican’s responsibility for directing the cover up of these crimes”.

We are hearing that the official headcount for Phoenix Park at the moment is 50,000. Of course, it’s still early – the mass doesn’t start for about another two hours.

Our roaming reporter Nicky Ryan said the numbers heading to the park are starting to build now:

A special shoutout to Paul the bus driver for getting Nicky back into the city centre…

He – Nicky, not Paul the bus driver – will be heading to the Stand for Truth demonstration at the Garden of Remembrance later. There he will speak to people who have attended to stand in solidarity with clerical sex abuse survivors.

And don’t forget there is also an event in Tuam this afternoon to remember those who died at the Co Galway mother and baby home.

Marian Cassidy, who is attending the mass at the Phoenix Park, told us she’d like to hear the pope announce Dubliner Matt Talbot is to be canonised.

Talbot, who was an unskilled laborer, is considered the patron of men and women who are struggling with alcoholism, though he has never been formally recognised as a saint.

He was an alcoholic from the age of 13, but took the pledge at 28 and never drank again. Talbot said he found strength in the early years of his sobriety in prayer and became a devout Catholic.

He died on heart failure in 1925 and when his body was found it was discovered that he wore chains around his waist, one of his arms, and one of his legs, as well as chords around the other arm and leg. These were symbols of his devotion to Mary and his wish be her servant.

“I would love it with all my heart,” Marian Cassidy said of the possibility that Pope Francis could announce Talbot’s canonisation.

She has been praying to him for 40 years.

We have more from the Phoenix Park, where pilgrims are continuing to filter in for this afternoon’s mass. Less than an hour to go now…

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Daragh Brophy, still reporting from the park has set the scene for us – he said people came well prepared:

“Raincoats and backpacks were the uniform of the day, and everyone we spoke to said they’d brought a packed lunch.”

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has given his take on Pope Francis’ comments on clerical abuse.

He said they show he is “clearly angered” by what took place. Speaking to RTÉ Coveney said the pope’s remarks included “the strongest language I’ve ever heard from a pope”.

This photo from An Garda Síochána shows the Phoenix Park is starting to fill up. Just a half an hour now until Pope Francis is due to arrive for his mass…

Source: An Garda Síochána

And here’s the latest update from our reporter Daragh Brophy, who is awaiting the pontiff’s arrival at the park:

“The media centre is rammed now, and there’s been a noticeable uptick in activity as crews get everything organised in time for the pope’s arrival outside.

“Weather-wise, the worst of the rain has stopped but there’s still some misty showers about and most people arriving have either a poncho or a proper raincoat.

“We’ve just been let up to the raised platform overlooking the crowd.

“Much larger crowds coming in from the main drag of the park, Chesterfield Avenue, and from Islandbridge direction.”

It is worth pointing out in the context of discussion around sex abuse by members of the clergy in Ireland that news on the topic broke in the US this morning.

The Vatican’s retired ambassador to the US has accused the pope of failing to act on abuse by an ex-Cardinal.

In an 11-page letter, he claims Pope Francis initially rehabilitated Theodore McCarrick despite being informed of his penchant for young seminarians in 2013, soon after he was elected pope.

As pilgrims flock into the Phoenix Park, crowds are also starting to gather at the Garden of Remembrance for the Stand for Truth event:

And at the GPO, people are currently gathering for the Nope to the Pope protest:

Lisa Breslin told the crowd the people of Ireland stand in solidarity with abuse victims and “there is no need for them to be afraid anymore.

“The Catholic Church is losing its power and the world is waking up to the reality of this institutional power,” she added, receiving a big cheer.

Back at the Phoenix Park, the congregation is growing steadily, though it is not expected to reach the 500,000 figures we have been hearing the the lead-up.

The weather may have been a contributing factor in that, as well as the long walk facing pilgrims and the ban on mobility scooters.

And the pope has arrived at the Phoenix Park. He starts by driving around to wave to the crowd gathered in the rain to greet him:

Source: RTÉ

This from our reporter Daragh Brophy:

“Another weather update for you. That was QUITE the squall we had there, but the rain and wind has died down a fair bit now.

It’s still showery and breezy here in the Phoenix Park. The pope has just arrived.
Pope Francis is smiling and waving.

“He looks a little windswept.

“Enthusiastic cheers from the crowd and people are waving Vatican flags as he tours the site.

The Popemobile stopped briefly there as he shook hands with wellwishers.

Source: RTE

Daragh tells us people are reaching up to greet him wherever they can, but not everyone is quite so lucky.

“People are running through open spaces towards barriers to try and catch a closer look,” he said.

Source: RTÉ

Daragh Brophy reports from the park:

“The Popemobile slowed down as the pope made his way through the busier areas of the crowd.

There were some complaints yesterday that his parade through Dublin city centre proceeded with unanticipated haste.

He’s moving at a rather more stately pace here.

“He’s going all about the site, and isn’t due to begin celebrating Mass until 3pm.

“My next few updates may also be about a man moving around atop a vehicle, in other words, so feel free to come back later.”

But not too much later, readers, if you want to catch the mass. It is due to start in about 20 minutes.

Back at the Garden of Remembrance, our reporter Nicky Ryan says the crowd at the Stand for Truth event – standing in solidarity with abuse survivors – is growing fast.

Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

And in Tuam, an demonstration to remember those who died at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home has also started.

The crowd, which includes hundreds of people, is walking in silence:

At the Phoenix Park, the pope is still touring the site.

Daragh Brophy tells us there is still a fair bit of space in the sprawling site that’s been set aside in the park to host the papal event.

“500,000 tickets were sent out, free of charge, but the rain may well have put some people off this morning. A million people attended Pope John Paul’s Mass here in 1979,” he says.

A sign of how much Ireland has changed over the last 39 years… Bishop Eamon Casey and Father Michael Cleary acted as the warm-up act for the pontiff during his ’79 visit.

Wondering why the pope’s registration number is SCV 1?

From Daragh:

“According to an article in the Telegraph that I just Googled it’s the registration given to all Popemobiles and “is an abbreviation of the Italian and Latin names for Vatican City, Stato della Città del Vaticano and Status Civitatis Vaticanae, respectively”.

“I may be back with more facts purloined from that Popemobile article, if this driveabout doesn’t end soon.”

Source: RTÉ

The mass at the Phoenix Park is about to begin – the crowd as been asked to refrain from holding up banners or waving flags now.

Large cheers from the congregation at the Phoenix Park at the first sight of the pontiff on the altar:

Source: RTÉ

As the mass gets underway, Daragh has some thoughts on bishops’ attire:

“The thought ‘some of these bishops have very impressive hats’ just occurred to me. I know they’re referred to as mitres, but my knowledge more-or-less ended there (I’ve only been papal correspondent since yesterday morning). So here’s a bit more info from an ABC News article:

“The tall folded hat worn by popes and other bishops is called a mitre, and is an ancient symbol of priestly authority. Mitre’s come in several styles: simplex or simple, made of white linen or silk; pretiosa or precious, adorned in precious stones; and auriphrygiata or gold (seen here) made of gold cloth or white cloth with a gold fringe, typically worn during celebrations.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in his opening prayer says the Church in Ireland has gone through a difficult time, noting the people have been “wounded” by members of the clergy.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin is talking about the papal cross.

We are gathering around this cross in the hope of a spring for the Irish church, he says.

A spring that does not with to cover up those dark days.

The Church in Ireland needs the message of Jesus to reappear in all it’s hopefulness, he says.

Faith in Ireland is strong, he says. But it is also fragile.

The Pope begins by asking for forgiveness for abuses against people by members of the clergy.

“We ask forgiveness for the abuse in Ireland. Abuses of power, conscience and sexual abuse perpetrated by members with roles of responsibility in the Church.”

He also asks for forgiveness for some members of the Church hierarchy who “did not take charge of painful situations and kept quiet”.

In his prayer, Pope Francis asked pardon “for all the abuses for all the abuses committed in various types of institutions run by male or female religious and by other members of the Church and we ask for forgiveness”.

He said the Church was also asking for forgiveness for those exploited through manual work.

Back at the Garden of Remembrance, abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman started the solidarity gathering by asking the large crowd to silently consider why they are there.

Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

“And then think about our shared intent – what we bring here as individuals, as people, as women, as men, as children as people living in this country and what we’ve got to say to the world. We’re here to stand for truth.”

Following a song by Mry Coughlan – Magdelene Laundry – Brian Kennedy took to the stage, encouraging the crowd to chant “truth, justice and love”.

Meanwhile back at the Phoenix Park, the pope is leading the prayers again, speaking now about the importance of family.

Source: RTÉ

We’ve heard the total number in attendance is just under 130,000. Here’s the latest aerial photo from the Air Corps:

Our reporter Daragh Brophy, who has been at the Phoenix Park all day, says the pope’s earlier comments on abuses by Church members were not necessarily expected:

“Material on what he would say in his homily was distributed to the press ahead of the Mass – and his remarks at the opening of the ceremony were a departure from that,” he said.

If you missed it earlier, here are some of his comments:

“We ask forgiveness for the abuse in Ireland. Abuses of power, conscience and sexual abuse perpetrated by members with roles of responsibility in the Church.

In a special way we ask pardon for all the abuses committed in various institutions run by male or female religious members of the church and we ask for forgiveness for those cases of exploitation through manual work that so many young women and men were subjected to.

“We ask forgiveness for the times that as a church we did not show survivors of whatever kind of abuse compassion and the seeking of justice and truth through concrete actions. We ask for forgiveness.”

Gifts now being brought to the altar by families, including Emma Mhic Mhathuna – one of the woman impacted by the Cervical Check scandal – and her children:

Source: RTÉ

If you’re curious about the music today, Daragh Brophy tells us that in total, 3,000 voices from across all 26 dioceses will make up the main choir.

“Many more will contribute to the congregational singing with their own parish choirs in the corrals spread across the Phoenix Park,” he explained.

“Individuals and choirs have been rehearsing together locally in their dioceses for a number of months but this was the first time that the countrywide group was brought together.”

Daragh has also just realised he unintentionally joined the Vatican delegation:

If you missed Archbiship Diarmuid Martin’s welcome earlier, here are some extracts:

“It is commonplace to say that today you come to a different Ireland. The Church in Ireland has gone through challenging times. People have been wounded in the depth of their being by Church people; people’s faith has been challenged and the Church of Jesus Christ has been wounded.

Pope Francis visit to Ireland - Day 2 Archbishop Diarmuid Martin with Pope Francis at the beginning of the mass in the park this afernoon. Source: Danny Lawson/PA

“This Cross which dominates our gathering today is a symbol. It was probably never intended to be a permanent memorial. There were times when people asked that it be removed. There were times when this Cross appeared starkly isolated in the bleakness of an Irish winter.

In these years Ireland has had its winter moments but also its moments of spring. Those of us who know what an Irish winter is like – and we have had good experience of that this year – know also what happens when the first rays of spring sun emerge. Ireland changes.

“Today we gather around the same cross in the hope of a spring for the Irish Church. We look towards a spring sun that does not wish to cover up the harshness of dark days. We wish rather to help families realise anew that the future of Ireland needs the light of the message of Jesus Christ to reappear in all its simplicity and hopefulness.”

We told you earlier that fewer than 130,000 people are in attendance, though 500,000 tickets were sold.

Our reporter Stephen McDermott has reminded us that this month, HSE emergency chiefs warned those with health problems against attending the mass if they were unable to do so, while poor weather is also understood to have kept many mass-goers at home.

He also notes a significant number of tickets were snapped up by protesters when they were made available in July, with some booking hundreds of tickets without any intention of attending today’s mass.

Some more images from the park:




Source: Liam McBurney/PA

Let’s hear now from our reporter Nicky Ryan, who is outside the Garden of Remembrance.

He tells us writer Marian Keyes made a particularly strong speech:

“More than anything, what we need from the Catholic Church is humility…that these were real children, women, babies…and nothing they [the Church] have said has shown that they think we’re real.”

Hozier also performed at the gathering:

And Colm O’Gorman shared his own story of clerical sex abuse, which he said started soon after John Paul II’s visit, during which he made the ‘young people of Ireland, I love you’ speech.

“You did not love us,” O’Gorman said.

The crowd is now going to start moving in silence to Sean McDermott Street, the site of one of the last Magdalene Laundries.

In Tuam, the names of 796 babies were read out, as people in the crowd held up cards which also had individual names on them:

Earlier in the Phoenix Park, Pope Francis specifically addressed the treatment of women who in the past became pregnant outside of marriage:

“We ask for forgiveness for those times in which many single mothers were told that to seek out their children who had been separated from them, and the same time being said to the daughters and sons themselves, that this was a mortal sin. This is not a mortal sin. We ask for forgiveness.”

The Mass at the Phoenix Park is now coming to an end. The crowd was told that more than 500,000 people were there, but that’s not quite right. We’re hearing around 130,000, but we will have to wait for official figures after it’s all over. As soon as we find out you guys will be the first to know…

And the big announcement people were waiting for – the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome in 2021. So the pope won’t have far to travel.

At the same time, Pope Francis is delivering his final remarks. He thanks everyone, “religious or not”, to large cheers from the congregation.

Source: RTÉ

And in the Phoenix Park, announcements are being made about how people should leave the site. Some sections being asked to remain where they are for the moment, until they’re given a gate to exit, Daragh Brophy tells us.

They were also being asked not to push and to be mindful of children in the crowd.

“People are taking selfies at the site. ‘If you are asked to stop at any point by stewards you are asked to please obey,’ announcer says. ‘Slán Abhaile.’ … Entertainment is to continue here at the site for the moment.”

Now, road closures today were only supposed to be in place until 5.15pm at the latest, but it is likely that there will be disruption for the next couple of hours as the thousands of people who attended the mass make their way home.

We have more from Nicky Ryan now at the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street.

“You are not forgotten. We love you. We stand with you,” reads one message. Another says: “For my mother, whose abuse was buried by the parish priests.”

And another: “For everyone they hurt…”

The crowd walked there in complete silence:

The last item on Pope Francis’ itinerary is the farewell ceremony at Dublin Airport, which will take place at 6.30pm. After this the pontiff will board his flight back to Rome.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is on the runway for the pope’s send-off.

Some last minute handshakes from Pope Francis…

Source: RTÉ

A final wave from the steps of the Aer Lingus plane that will take him home:

Source: RTÉ

Ahead of the Pope’s departure from Dublin Airport, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has welcomed his call for action and forgiveness in relation to clerical sex abuse, but once again said words should be followed by action.

A sense of normality is resuming in the Phoenix Park, where our tireless reporter Daragh Brophy is still (just about) hanging on.

Back in Rome, Vatican News – the official news source of the Holy See – has called the pope’s request for a pardon for clerical abuse, made during his Mass at the Phoenix Park, “unprecedented and unexpected”.

Elsewhere, at least 1,000 people gathered for a vigil at the site of a former home for unmarried mothers in Tuam, Co Galway, to coincide with the papal visit.

Here are a selection of images from the protest taken by PA’s Niall Carson:

Pope Francis visit to Ireland - Day 2 Activists at a protest at the site of the former Tuam home for unmarried mothers in Galway. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Pope Francis visit to Ireland - Day 2 Activists at a protest at the site of the former Tuam home for unmarried mothers in Galway. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Pope Francis visit to Ireland - Day 2 Activists at a protest at the site of the former Tuam home for unmarried mothers in Galway. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Pope Francis visit to Ireland - Day 2 Activists at a protest at the site of the former Tuam home for unmarried mothers in Galway. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

Dr Umar Al-Qadri, head of the Islamic Centre Ireland, has expressed his support for demonstrators who attended today’s Stand4Truth march in Dublin city centre.

And that’s it from us. No doubt there’ll be plenty more to come on the papal visit over the coming weeks and months, but for now we’re signing off.

Thanks for following us over the course of the weekend.


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel