Lessons from visit of Pope Francis


Sir, – I am amazed at the wholesale negativity surrounding the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland. I would like to boast in a positive way on five things that inspired me.

As the cavalcade escorted Pope Francis from Dublin Airport to Áras an Uachtaráin the aerial views of Dublin were outstanding in the morning sunshine. Considering the millions of people watching, those pictures did more for Irish tourism than any other event in our history. The eyes of the world were on Ireland for 36 hours. Down the road the nation will reap the benefits.

The address of the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, was an outstanding tribute to Catholicism, especially since independence, with an open invitation to every Irish citizen to enter a new spring of acknowledgement and cooperation. Catholics of all walks of life should reply positively to the bold address.

All Catholics need to act on the Taoiseach’s invitation to bring justice and healing to all the victims and survivors of abuse in all its forms in the church and society.

The compassionate manner of Pope Francis towards children was a profound statement on how everyone should treat children and young people. This was evident throughout the trip but especially on his arrival at Knock Airport.

The pope’s non-scripted remarks to Brother Kevin in the Capuchin Day Centre were a clear signal to me that the days of the inquisition have ended in the Catholic Church. A less judgemental church means a place in the pew for everyone, all inclusive, regardless of gender, race or creed.

The culture of systematic clericalism must end with the words of Pope Francis on August 25th.

The fifth observation belongs to the people who ventured out to meet the pope. We should not underestimate the fellowship and love of most of those who took part.

I was with 40,000 sunshine people in the rain at Knock. What took place between us will stay with me for the rest of my life. The joyful encounter was helped enormously by the stewards, volunteers, the Garda and all those who organised the wonderful occasion.

I think we should build up rather than tear down, embrace rather than alienate, include rather than exclude, for that is what Jesus does. Everyone in Ireland and the Irish aboard should hold their heads high because of what took place last weekend. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – The natural order around apology and forgiveness is that firstly the offender apologises for the deeds and/or words which he or she acknowledges as having been wrong, and that is much much more than merely uttering a “sorry”. A sincere apology which is not just an attempt to gloss over matters can be followed by a request for forgiveness. Sincerity around the apology means not repeating the deed, or at the very least making best efforts not to do so, or to put systems in place to that end.

The offended party might well accept an apology, but forgiveness depends on their own appreciation of the nature and sincerity of the apology they received.

The onus of forgiveness was placed on victims of clerical sexual abuse and of institutional abuse last weekend when criteria for apology had not yet been met, as evidenced in the semantics of the pope’s speeches.

A universal forgiveness is hard to achieve, because every victim’s harm and subsequent resulting fallout are unique and personal.

To request forgiveness without apologising is arrogant, no matter who or what one is, or whom or what one represents. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 12.

Sir, – Well done to the people of Ireland on their parting gift to Pope Francis. The pope has visited many countries and I bet he has never returned to Rome with such a large flea in his ear! – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.