Pope Francis says clergy sex abuse scandals are an “open wound” that must be treated with “firm and decisive” action.
Pope Francis said this at the Marian Shrine of Knock on Sunday, his second day in Ireland.
“This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice,” Francis said in an Angelus message at the Marian shrine of Knock, drawing applause from the crowd.
Thousands of faithful had queued at security checks starting at 3 a.m. (0200 GMT), despite the inclement weather, for a chance to see Francis, who exchanged waves with the crowds as he drove up in the Popemobile.
According to the Vatican, 45,000 people came to hear the pope.
“I beg the Lord’s forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God’s family.
“I ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for all the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur,” he added
The biggest event in Ireland since the last papal visit in 1979 has been dominated by Ireland’s legacy of clerical abuse, with thousands of abuse survivors set to protest to coincide with the mass.
The pope now heads back to Dublin for the mass to mark his visit to the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic celebration of the family, which is the focal point of the pontiff’s visit.
He will celebrate mass for 500,000 people in the Irish capital’s Phoenix Park.
Abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman, founder of One in Four, a victims’ support group, is organising a protest at the same time as the papal mass in Dublin.
Protesters are calling on the Vatican to admit that it was responsible for a cover-up of abuse and to hold those responsible accountable.
Thousands are expected to attend the protest, which will feature big-name musicians, including Hozier.
Marie Collins, one of the abuse victims who met with Francis on Saturday, said in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter that the chat with the pontiff was disappointing.
The abuse victim said that no new measures were being planned.
Collins, who plans to take part in the Sunday protest, also responded to critics on Twitter, asking them to respect that she was “trying to represent the pain of so many” during the meeting.
The pope arrived on Saturday to begin his two-day visit to the country, where 74 per cent of people still identify as Catholic.
He met with President Michael Higgins, Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varakdar and Children’s Minister, Katharine Zappone, all of whom spoke to him about the impact of Ireland’s legacy of clerical child abuse.(dpa/NAN)