Pope Francis said today on his first visit to Ireland that the failure of the Church to address child abuse by clerics was a "source of pain and shame for the Catholic community”.
“I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” Francis told a state reception attended by some abuse survivors.
“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.”
One of the abuse survivors present, Colm O’Gorman, called the pope’s remarks a staggering effort at deflection that failed to acknowledge the Vatican’s role in covering up the crimes.
“It was quite shocking actually in some ways,” O’Gorman, a leading abuse campaigner, told national broadcaster RTE.
The Pope landed at Dublin Airport at 10.30am where he was greeted by the daughters of Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who presented him with flowers.
He then drove to presidential residence, Aras an Uachtarain, in Dublin's Phoenix Park to meet President Michael D Higgins.
Pope Francis is in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families – an event focused on promoting family values.
There have also been protests from LGBT campaigners about the papal visit because of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality.
Read more: This is the most powerful man in the world