Pope Francis spoke during his visit to Ireland Saturday of his shame over the “appalling crimes” of historic child abuse in the Catholic Church and said outrage was justified.
However, he failed to specifically mention the current scandal raging over a US grand jury report documenting at least 1,000 cases of clerical pedophilia.
“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments,” the Pope said.
He was speaking to a hall in Dublin Castle packed with hundreds of political and religious dignitaries along with foreign diplomats.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who spoke ahead of the Pope, did not skirt the current abuse revelations that have emerged in Pennsylvania.
“In recent weeks, we have all listened to heartbreaking stories from Pennsylvania of brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church, and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims,” he said. “It is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland.”
Varadkar called for “zero tolerance” of church sexual abuse and urged the Pope “to adopt stringent norms meant to ensure that they do not happen again.”
“Holy Father, I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the world,” Varadkar said, and he asked the Pope to listen to the victims.
The Pope later met with eight Irish survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse, according to Greg Burke, the director of the Vatican’s press office.
CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said the Pope’s statement on abuse scandals likely will leave survivors disappointed.
“He didn’t offer any concrete new plan of action, including over the vexed issue of accountability for the cover-up of abuse crimes. If Francis was in any doubt that child sexual abuse would form the key issue of this trip, it was dispelled when he was greeted by Varadkar, who publicly recalled the church’s failures and urged the Pope to action.”
The 32-hour trip is the first papal visit to the majority Roman Catholic Ireland in 39 years, a country that has undergone seismic social changes in that time, with the introduction of divorce, gay marriage and more recently the legalization of abortion, as well as a growing rejection of religion.