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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images Pairs of baby shoes hang from the railings on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin in memory of the children who died at the mother and baby home in Tuam.
pope francis

Pope compared cover up in Church to 'sh*t' in private meeting, abuse survivors say

The pope met a group of eight survivors this evening.

THE VATICAN HAS confirmed Pope Francis met with eight survivors of abuse in Ireland during his visit today.

“Pope Francis met early Saturday evening for an hour and a half with eight survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse,” spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement.

In a separate statement Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother And Baby Home Survivors said the pope had condemned corruption and cover up within the church as “caca”.

“Literally filth as one sees in a toilet his translator clarified,” Redmond said in his statement – but ‘shit’ or ‘excrement’ would be a more accurate translation.

“I’m sure the translator was trying not to be vulgar,” Rome Correspondent of the Catholic News Service, Junno Arocho Esteves, said on Twitter, “but ‘filth as one sees in a toilet’ just doesn’t do the word ‘caca’ justice. For us Hispanics, ‘caca’ is one of several words that translates to ‘shit’”.

Speaking to Reuters, a Vatican official said he would not be surprised that the pope had used the word. An official spokesperson had no comment.

Redmond said the pope had apologised for what had happened in the Church-run homes in the course of the meeting.

Clodagh Malone, who is also a member of the Coalition of Mother And Baby Home Survivors, met the pope alongside Redmond.

She asked the Pope, tonight’s statement from the group said, “to clearly and publicly state that the natural mothers who lost their babies to adoption had done nothing wrong and call for reconciliation and reunion for these families broken by the Catholic Church both in Ireland and around the world”.

She said the pope had agreed to include the message in his Mass tomorrow.

Campaigner Marie Collins, who last year resigned from a special Vatican commission created by the pope to tackle clerical abuse, was also among the group who met the pope.

Collins, who quit the panel citing lack of progress on vital issues, was critical of Pope Francis’s letter addressing clerical child abuse, issued earlier this week, saying his statement and apology lacked a plan of action.

Addressing an audience at the Church’s World Meeting of Families at the RDS yesterday, Collins said robust structures need to be put in place to hold Church leaders who protect predators to account.

Abuse survivor Fr Paddy McCafferty, a parish priest in Ballymurphy in Belfast, confirmed on Twitter he too had met the pontiff, describing it as an “an excellent meeting in every respect”.

Uncertainty over meeting 

There has been uncertainty in recent months over whether a meeting with survivors would take place in Ireland.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who is hosting the World Meeting of Families, said several times at public events recently that he wasn’t certain if there would be enough time for the pope to meet victims.

The Vatican announced on Tuesday that it would happen, saying that details would not be announced until after it had taken place and that it would be up to participants if they wanted to speak publicly about it.

News of the meeting emerged shortly after 7pm this evening, just before the pope arrived for the Festival of Families concert which is being held at Croke Park. He will say Mass to an expected crowd of 500,000 people at the Phoenix Park tomorrow.

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