Pope Francis in Ireland – joy and dismay


Sir, – We can be grateful to Jennifer O’Connell (“The pope’s visit: some numbers you’ll >be sickened to hear”, August 25th) for highlighting a number of horrifying facts resulting from systemic abuses within the Catholic Church and its institutions over many years.

While these are hard to stomach, it is critical for abuse survivors that the true extent of what has gone on in this respect over the years is known and that we be reminded of what continues to be unaddressed.

The suggestion (“Think about that when you’re picnicking in the park this weekend”) that by participating in a Mass at the Phoenix Park means being in ignorance of continued suffering is unfair.

Those I know who partook in this and other events are not ignorant.

They live in hope (however dim that may be) of the survival of their own faith and that of the church, if wrongs can be addressed. – Yours, etc,


George Town,

Grand Cayman,

Cayman Islands.

Sir, – Dublin Bus deserves great praise for its service to the Phoenix Park on Sunday, done with such efficiency and good humour.

We parked in UCD at 11am and immediately boarded a bus to Cooke Street beside Guinness’s. No stops, no traffic and we were in our appointed place in the Park before 1pm having stopped for a coffee break.

Coming home, on arrival at Cooke Street about 18 buses awaited us, three deep across the street. We were immediately led to the one at the front and arrived back to UCD at 6.45pm.

Our driver, so bright and chatty, stopped the bus in Donnybrook to allow seven Carmelites off near the Avila Monastery!

The day and indeed the week brought back memories of our city during the Special Olympics. Would that this joy could continue! – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – In his recent letter to the world and subsequent visit to Ireland, it is clear that Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow for the abuse perpetrated by the church hierarchy.

Now is the time for His Holiness to require every member of the worldwide hierarchy to attest in writing that they will “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in all dealings with civil and criminal authorities, and that these signed letters are permanently made available online. – Yours, etc,



Michigan, US.

Sir, – It defies belief that the pope had not heard of the Magdalene laundries or the Tuam babies scandal before coming to Ireland on an official visit this weekend.

This raises serious questions about the extent to which he is briefed about what is going on in Ireland by the hierarchy and the papal nuncio. Is such vital information being withheld from him by forces in the Vatican or simply ignored?

Apart from the irremediable devastation caused to thousands of lives by these laundries and homes, the revelations over the past 30 years about what happened there and in other church-run institutions, and the delay in providing justice to the survivors, have destroyed the trust and faith in the institutional church of hundreds of thousands of Catholics and brought shame on the country.

I suggest that you gift the pontiff a digital subscription to The Irish Times, including the archives, so that he may better and more easily inform himself about what is going on here and why his welcome was so much more muted than that of his predecessor almost 40 years ago. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – There was an awful lot of red carpet in the Phoenix Park on Sunday.

Then again, there was a lot to be swept under it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.

Sir, – While there may be many reasons including apathy and weather, the expected crowds did not turn up at Phoenix Park, I suspect the chief reason is the fear factor promulgated by Garda, and health and safety officials, etc.

Many people in areas concerned were in effective lockdown, and businesses suffered as a result.

One senior Garda officer said you’d have to be as fit as if you were climbing Croagh Patrick. That was hardly conducive to those most likely to attend,the elderly! Some houses were told to stock up on food.

Similarly in Knock, many more people could have been accommodated. I worked there in 1979 and, while there were issues, about 300,000 turned up there without any great problem.

Have we fallen victim to over-regulation? – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.

Sir, – After the papal Mass on Sunday, a few visiting priests from France walked from the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park, to O’Connell Street. They had passed the Spire when they decided to stop for a drink in a pub.

Three women approached them and rudely told them they were not welcome to go in.

The priests were then defended by a couple of Irish people who retorted that a pub is a public place and anyone can enter.

A dispute broke out between the women and the defending group and not wanting to cause dissension, the visitors went elsewhere. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – The fortitude, patience and incredible stamina of Pope Francis during his 36-hour mission to Ireland must surely be worthy of an Ironman gold medal. – Yours, etc,