ROME - The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will meet with victims of clerical sexual abuse during his visit this week to Ireland. In the four decades since a pope last traveled to Ireland, several reports of clerical sexual abuse have rocked the Church.
Pope Francis' principal reason to visit Ireland this weekend is to take part in the World Meeting of Families, which opened Tuesday in the country’s dioceses. The event, held every three years, brings together families from around the world. He is to address families attending the meeting Saturday at Croke Park in Dublin.
The pope had been expected to meet survivors of clerical sexual abuse, but this had not been officially confirmed until today. Pope Francis has been coming under intense pressure to speak out with force about the issue of clerical sexual abuse in the Church in Ireland.
Irish abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman summed up how many others feel, saying “I would like him to tell the damn truth. I would just like him to acknowledge the simple fact of the cover up and the Vatican's role in it and that is where then conversations can begin to happen.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said details of the private meeting with survivors in Ireland will only be made available if the survivors choose to do so. Burke added some prefer not to go public with their stories. “For the pope, it is important to listen to them,” he said.
Pope Francis has met with victims in Philadelphia, Chile and the Vatican.
Prayer for victims
One of the most significant moments of the pope’s visit will take place Saturday in St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, where Francis will pray in silence before a candle lit in memory of the victims of abuse.
The archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, and the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O’Malley, have withdrawn from the World Meeting of Families due to the clerical sexual abuse scandals and allegations in the United States.
This week, Pope Francis wrote an unprecedented letter to all the world's Catholics promising that no effort would be spared to prevent such situations of abuse from occurring or being covered up in the future.