During Mass in front of 300,000 people in Dublin on Aug 26, Pope Francis apologized for “crimes” committed by the Catholic Church, including the sexual and physical abuse of children at schools and churches.
He was ending a two-day visit to the Republic of Ireland by celebrating a Mass at Dublin’s Phoenix Park.The Argentine Pope asked forgiveness for the “abuses in Ireland, abuses of power, conscience and sexual abuses” perpetrated by Church leaders.
“We ask forgiveness for those members of the hierarchy who didn’t take responsibility for this painful situation, and who kept silence,” he said. “May the Lord keep this state of shame and compunction and give us strength so this never happens again, and there is justice.”
While Mass was taking place, protesters gathered in the town of Tuam, where several decades ago almost 800 children and babies died at a Catholic-run orphanage.
Francis said he met with victims of abuse on Saturday, as well as mothers who, because they were pregnant and unmarried, were forced to live and work in laundries and could not keep their babies. The pontiff told these women that, despite what they were told by Catholic leaders before, it wasn’t a sin to look for their children. He also told reporters it was “painful for me” in the 1990s when the scale of the abuse in Ireland was revealed, and he felt “consolation of having helped clarify these things.”
With this visit, Pope Francis became the first pope to visit Ireland in 39 years.