Pope Francis in Ireland – words and deeds


Sir, – Congratulations and thanks to all those involved in the preparation of the pope’s visit to Ireland. What a wonderful display of faith, family, community and talent! Amoris Laetitia! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.

Sir, – The papal visit has left this Irishwoman overcome with the kind of nausea that comes from the dizziness of cognitive dissonance. Here you have the language of morals applied to criminal acts, not the language of the criminal code.

Once upon a time you could speak in the language of morals (“sin”, “scandal“) to a schooled Christian community. But it’s not possible to convince people now to apply this kind of code to criminal activity, as special pleading just because the perpetrators are members of your powerful club. Remember the Irish bishops all pleading for understanding and forgiveness for Bishop Eamonn Casey’s fornication (to use the biblical term), back in the day, while whacking everyone else with a crozier for any infringement of their laws. Now this pope, unwittingly, does exactly the same thing: asking forgiveness for the club insiders, without addressing what he intends to do to expose the crimes. He didn’t even promise an inquisition!

The institutional church looked entirely discredited before the visit. His failure to use the language of the law towards the crimes of his officers, even now, only cements the discredit. These criminals need rendering unto Caesar, where their case belongs.

The rottenness of what the institution has allowed itself to become ought not to be a cause of despair to its common-folk members. An implosion and collapse will do it the world of good. The often-lamentable hierarchy and the other yes-men are merely the stokers and the boiler men down in the bowels of the ship. Someone has to do this job, but the lack of fresh air down there has not been good for them at all. Meanwhile the people of God are all strolling in the sunshine on the upper decks. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” says the prophet Micah. Drain the swamp, Pope Francis! – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.

Sir, – My local art gallery in Rathmines village said it all, with a small notice this week, combined with relevant art pieces, on display in the front window.“Give up yer aul sins”. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Watching the arrival of Pope Francis at Dublin Airport on Saturday morning, I was struck by the sight of Cardinal Seán Brady among the waiting welcoming party. Seán Brady played a well documented role in the cover-up of clerical child sexual abuse within the church. As a priest he took an active part in a clerical tribunal where three members of the clergy questioned two young children about their accounts of having been abused by a priest. The tribunal took place at night, the boys were not permitted to have their parents present to support them and they were then made to sign documents swearing them to secrecy over what had taken place. What message, I wonder, was the church here in Ireland sending out by having Seán Brady, now a supposedly retired cardinal, present at the outset of the pope’s visit? – Yours, etc,



Co Armagh.

Sir, – I watched Saturday’s televised coverage of the pope’s visit to Dublin alongside a good friend who is in her nineties. She made a noteworthy observation in relation to the pontiff’s entourage, “There are no nuns, none”. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – Congratulations to the Vatican on their PR victory during the pope’s visit to Ireland.

Our Government stood by as our former president Mary McAleese was insulted by the Vatican by being barred from speaking at the World Congress of Families. Our Government was prepared to shell out an estimated €10 million to €20 million to help host the representative of an organisation that protected clergy who raped and abused our children, and in whose name women were incarcerated and mistreated.

The US grand jury report, documents the trail from abusing priests to the Vatican itself. Where is the Vatican’s love, compassion, justice and care for these tortured, damaged, abused citizens?

Now that the truth has been revealed we hear words of regret and sorrow but for too long they have spoken with forked tongues. Ireland has come a long way in recent times.

We are today a more tolerant society that has moved towards a more inclusive, non-judgemental attitude to others. Nevertheless we are not opening our prison doors and freeing rapists and abusers as we apologise to their victims. Yet, the Vatican, one of the richest states in the world, has been allowed a platform to whitewash and repackage itself at our expense while espousing an ethos contrary to that of the majority of Irish people.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the organised church is not a necessary requisite to live our lives in the pursuit of peace, truth, justice and love. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – While observing crowd scenes during this papal visit, what struck me most was the abundance of bright and cheerful colours worn by attendees. Maybe my memory of 1979 has a sepia filter. – Yours, etc,


Terenure, Dublin 6W.

Sir, – In the time leading up to this weekend, many voices called out in hope that the words that would be spoken by Pope Francis over the past few days would indicate a changing church; a church that was finally prepared to confess its sins, take ownership for the wide-ranging abuse and trauma it has caused and most importantly, indicate how structures, processes, and policies within the institution would change to dismantle a system that is focused on self-preservation and self-protection above all else.

That did not happen.

What did happen, however, was while meaningless phrases were being spoken once again, by another pope, there was an outpouring of solidarity, love and compassion from friends, family members and many many strangers, in places like Tuam, the Garden of Remembrance, Cork and other smaller settings.

Perhaps it is time we stop waiting for the institutional church and those in its higher echelons to own up to its responsibility to our sisters and brothers, and turn to each other for healing. What many experienced during marriage equality, repeal, and this past weekend has been a building of wonderful new communities, with a wide mix of people from varying backgrounds, ages and identities who come together from a common position of simple, genuine care.

We are creating something wonderful, beautiful and compassionate, right across this country, and for that I am grateful. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Perhaps “crowds expert” Sean Spicer can shed some light on the number of people who attended the papal Mass in the Phoenix Park. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – In reply to Leo Varadkar’s speech of welcome in Dublin Castle on Saturday, Pope Francis might have reminded him that the housing situation in Dublin and Ireland at the moment is “a stain on any state or society” . – Yours, etc,


Dublin 2.

Sir, – What a wonderful privilege it was to have Pope Francis visit our shores! Such a humble, sincere and kind man who shares his warm and generous spirit with everyone he meets and greets.The Festival of Families in Croke Park was a wonderful occasion for so many Irish and international families to come together and celebrate the joy of being a family. The performers, musicians and artists were all outstanding and the pope’s speech very apt and relevant to family life today.

Thousands of people, including myself, enjoyed the papal Mass in the Phoenix Park. The humility and empathy of Pope Francis were beacons of hope and rays of light despite the grey skies above. His very busy schedule did not deter him from displaying a calm, embracing radiance in every action and gesture he performed and his genuine concern for the poor and marginalised in society was evident in his speeches to us all.

The unforgettable memory of the pope’s visit will undoubtedly remain in many Irish hearts and memories long after he returns home, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another 39 years for the next one! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.