Pope yet to confirm he will meet abuse survivors, says Archbishop

Diarmuid Martin says time is very tight for pope to meet cross-section of survivors

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said “time is very tight” for Pope Francis to meet survivors of church abuse during his visit to Ireland.

Dr Martin said he was pushing the Vatican to have the pope meet a cross-section of survivors of industrial schools, Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and those who suffered from clerical sex abuse.

However, he said Pope Francis will spend only 36 hours in Ireland.

When asked what plans the pope has to deal with the issue of the clerical sex abuse, he responded: “He will obviously speak about various forms of abuse not just clerical abuse, the abuse in the institutions, the laundries and the mother and baby homes. It would be great to meet some of the victims or survivors from that group, but the time is very tight.”


Speaking after launching an exhibition at the OPW centre in the Phoenix Park on the previous Papal visit in 1979, Archbishop Martin said he had no definitive response from the Vatican as to whether or not Pope Francis would meet abuse survivors.

The Archbishop expressed optimism that the pope would address the issue when he visited Ireland on August 25th and 26th.

Clerical abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman described the pope’s visit as “particularly galling” for people like him.

He said it will be “nauseating” if the pope privately meets abuse survivors as “just a box-ticking exercise”.

Mr O’Gorman told The Irish Times Politics Podcast he admired much of what the Pope has to say in relation to refugees and poverty.

However, he said the pope had failed to tackle abuse within the Church. “No pope, including this pope, has ever acknowledged the simple proven fact that the Vatican orchestrated and facilitated the cover up of the rape and abuse of hundreds of thousands of children on a global level.

“Yet everywhere a pope goes, we get this breathless adoration. He hasn’t said sorry. A simple acknowledgement of the truth has to be made if we are to believe that this institution has changed.”

The big event of the pope’s visit will be the Mass in the Phoenix Park on Sunday August 26th.

World Meeting of Families spokeswoman Brenda Drumm said those who had attempted to book multiple tickets and not attend in protest at the scandals in the Catholic Church have been "washed out of the system".

After the visit was announced, some protesters set up a Say Nope to the Pope campaign intending to block tickets for the various events with a view to not attending. One protester claimed he had booked 700 tickets for the Phoenix Park mass.

Ms Drumm said they were able to identify the “vast majority” of those who had tried to block book tickets as part of the campaign. She added the numbers involved were “insignificant”.

All three public events, the visit to Croke Park on Saturday, August 25th, the visit to Knock Shrine in Co Mayo on Sunday and the Phoenix Park mass, are booked out.

The pope has also scheduled a visit to the Capuchin Day Centre to meet some of Dublin’s homeless people.

Brother Kevin Crowley, who runs the centre, said among those the pope will meet will be families who are forced to live in hotels because of the housing crisis.

Brother Kevin said it was “appalling” that the Government continues to allow families stay in hotels because there is nowhere else for them to go.

“If Pope Francis had the power, he would never have homeless people going to a hotel. He would have them all housed. I would hope that in future, he will see all these children and their parents get proper housing, proper respect and proper dignity,” he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times