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Pope to Irish bishops: Way Church confronts abuse 'can offer an example to society as a whole'

The pope met with the bishops before heading to the airport.

Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park in Dublin
Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park in Dublin
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

POPE FRANCIS HAS told Ireland’s bishops that the way in which the Catholic Church confronts abuse “can offer an example and a warning to society as a whole”.

His remarks, in a meeting with the senior clerics at the Dominican Convent in Cabra, followed this afternoon’s Phoenix Park Mass, where the pope asked the congregation for forgiveness for abuse by the clergy and other Church members.

In those earlier remarks, he asked for forgiveness for the times that the Church did not show survivors of abuse “compassion and the seeking of justice and truth through concrete actions”.

Speaking to the bishops, he said that the Church needed to acknowledge and remedy with evangelical honesty and courage its past failures with regard to the protection of children and other vulnerable groups.

“In recent years, you as a body have resolutely moved forward, not only by undertaking paths of purification and reconciliation with victims of abuse, but also with the help of the National Board for Safeguarding of Children in the Church in Ireland, by establishing a stringent set of norms aimed at ensuring the safety of young persons.

“In these years, all of us have had our eyes opened to the gravity and extent of sexual abuse in various social settings.

“In Ireland, as elsewhere, the honesty and integrity with which the Church chooses to confront this painful chapter of her history can offer an example and a warning to society as a whole.”

The pope’s remarks were distributed to the press in advance of his meeting with the bishops this evening.

He addressed a range of other subjects at the convent meeting, where he also praised the bishops for “the concern you show the poor, the excluded and those in need of a helping hand”.

Around 130,000 attended the Phoenix Park for this afternoon’s Mass. In Dublin city centre, a demonstration in support of abuse survivors was held at the same time.

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