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World Meeting of Families

Taoiseach says it would be appropriate for Pope to visit survivors of Catholic Church abuse in Ireland

The government will tell the Vatican that families ‘of all shapes and forms’ should be celebrated during Pope’s Irish visit

THE TAOISEACH HAS said it would be appropriate for the Pope to visit survivors of abuse perpetrated by the Catholic Church when he visits Ireland in August.

Leo Varadkar also said that the government’s view that “families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated” will be relayed to the Vatican.

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil yesterday that the government is very much of the view that there are many different types of families.

“All types should be celebrated, including the traditional nuclear family with the man married to the woman with children, one-parent families, families led by grandparents, and families led by same-sex couples. We will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that the government’s view is that families in all their forms should be celebrated,” he said.

On meeting victims, Varadkar said:

“Regarding survivors of Catholic institutions who were used, abused and mistreated in them, there is some indication, albeit I have not heard it through official channels but rather through the media, that the Pontiff may wish to meet with former residents.  That might be the most appropriate thing to do.

“While he might also visit a location, the strongest statement would be to meet people who are in those places rather than just to visit them,” he said.

‘Not a State visit’

While he said the visit by Pope Francis is not a State visit, it will be treated as such in terms of security measures and cost.

“It is ultimately taxpayers’ money but I believe the majority of taxpayers in the country would want us to meet these costs as it is an historic visit. The vast majority of people will welcome Pope Francis to our country,” said Varadkar.

It is expected that approximately 3,000 journalists from around the world will be in Dublin for the World Meeting of Families. The Taoiseach said large security measures will be needed for the Pope’s arrival at the airport, which will include a garda escort and an army escort.

“As this is a visit of an historic nature, akin to the papal visit of 1979 or the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 2011, we believe it is appropriate that the government meet these costs,” said Varadkar.

Labour’s Joan Burton raised an issue that the Taoiseach was not aware of, stating that following Pope’s visit in 1979 the Phoenix Park was left in a bad state.

“The Phoenix Park will be the venue for the visit. Will there be a definite fund provided by the Government to restore and reinstate the Phoenix Park, our premier public open space in an urban setting, after the Pope has gone home? During the last papal visit, the park almost collapsed under the strain caused by the great number of people in attendance,” she said.

She said arrangements are already being made to take down the gates at all the entrances of Phoenix Park and to refurbish them for the Pope’s visit.

Varadkar said he assumed the park will be reinstated “fully and quickly”, adding that he will look into the matter and ensure it is part of the discussions and deliberations in the months ahead.

Read: Taoiseach says government at Vatican’s ‘disposal’ for Pope Francis visit>

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