Pope’s meeting with abuse survivors will be ‘sacred moment’, says Archbishop

Eamon Martin says meetings with survivors are difficult because ‘they don’t trust us’

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr Eamon Martin says Pope Francis's meeting with survivors of clerical abuse will be a "sacred moment" during his visit to Ireland.

Speaking at a press conference at the World Meeting of Families, Dr Martin said such a meeting is often difficult because survivors “sometimes simply don’t trust us”.

He admitted that he has no information about the plans by Pope Francis.

“The details of the meeting I don’t know anything about. I would love to tell you more,” he told reporters


The possibility of Pope Francis not meeting abuse survivors was raised by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin earlier this month. He expressed fears that there would be no time for the pope to meet with survivors and he had been leaning on the Vatican to facilitate such a meeting.

Confirmation that the meeting will take place came from Vatican spokesman Greg Burke in a briefing to the media on Thursday.

Mr Burke said that in accordance with previous visits, the meeting would not be held in public and it would be up to the survivors to make it public afterwards if they wished to do so.

Dr Eamon Martin said he never doubted the meeting would happen.

“He (the pope) has always made it clear that he has always wanted to reach out with survivors,” he said.

“It is a difficult thing to do. My own experience is that while meeting with survivors is not easy for any of us.

“It is important that it is seen as a sacred moment or a special moment both for the survivors and for Pope Francis. I expect he will be in listening mode as we have to be when we are dealing with this issue. I hope and pray that it goes well for everyone concerned.”

Archbishop Martin said he was not aware of the controversial practice of conversion therapy happening within the Catholic Church.

“I think conversion and change and repentance is something that is offered to all Christians. I wouldn’t support this idea of some kind of psychotherapy happening within a church setting.

“ I don’t think I fully understand the idea of conversion therapy. I do think the call for chasity is there for all Catholics with regard to sexual activity outside of marriage.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times