Pope begs forgiveness for abuse scandals as Ireland trip ends

Vastavam web: Pope Francis on Sunday begged forgiveness for the multitude of abuses suffered by victims in Ireland at the hand of the church over decades as he concluded a tour of the once deeply Catholic country watched by parishioners and protesters. After meeting privately with abuse victims on Saturday on the first papal visit to Ireland in almost four decades, Francis apologised to mothers estranged from their children in church-run homes, children abused by priests and those exploited in religious schools, calling it a “state of shame.”

“We apologise for some members of the hierarchy who did not take care of these painful situations and kept silent.” Years of sexual abuse scandals have shattered the credibility of the Church which four decades ago dominated Irish society. In the past three years, Irish voters have approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the Vatican. Pressure on the pope over church abuse increased elsewhere on Sunday when a former top Vatican official accused Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent U.S. cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation last month.

While 500,000 people snapped up tickets to see Francis say mass, local media quoted police recording the numbers as estimating some 130,000 arrived in the rain at the same spot where Pope John Paul II stood 39 years ago. Tens of thousands more prayed with him at the Knock shrine in the west of Ireland.