‘Hit-and-run’ visit: Irish protesters reject pardon plea from Pope Francis

The Guardian – By Rory Carroll/Ireland Correspondent – Sunday 26 Aug 2018

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Photo: A rally walks to a former Magdalene laundry in Dublin as part of the demonstrations against clerical sexual abuse during Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA.

Pontiff’s two-day trip cloaked by anger, pain and defiance over clerical sexual abuse and cruelty.

Pope Francis may have been begging forgiveness at a mass in Phoenix Park, but just four miles away the banners at a protest rally in the heart of Dublin rebuffed that request with short, sharp slogans.

“Hey Pope Francis you’re outta chances”, “The Pope is a dope”, “The Pope is protecting paedophiles”, “Religion is fine, rape is not”, “Repeal the church”, and, perhaps most cuttingly: “The church way worse than the Brits.”

The anger, pain and defiance expressed on Sunday made clear that the pontiff’s two-day visit to Ireland had not salved the wounds from clerical sexual abuse and cruelty in Magdalene laundries and other institutions, at least not for the several thousand people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance.

“I don’t think he’s said enough, apologised enough,” said Fiona O’Driscoll, an educator who came with her husband and three children, aged three to 13. “I don’t want to scare them with stories … but things happened and they were awful. And for so long no one believed the victims.”

The pope’s requests for forgiveness in his Phoenix Park sermon, including for members of the church hierarchy who covered up “painful situations”, were far too little and too late for the crowd who had gathered at the garden dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

40017335_10216982121536173_1894493147799486464_n“The Pope is the most hypocritical person in the world. He’s done nothing,” said Martin Segrada, 83, who had travelled from Spain to hand out banners denouncing Pope Francis.

The author, activist and abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman organised the event, which was timed to coincide with the mass. He told reporters that the pope had apologised and met survivors but evaded Vatican responsibility for crimes and cover-ups. “I think [his visit] has made it worse.”

Maeve Lewis, of the advocacy group One in Four, agreed. “A missed opportunity. He made not one concrete proposal about what he intends to do.”

Performers included the Irish musician Hozier, who electrified the rally with a rendition of his song Take Me to Church. Many joined in the lyrics: “I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.”

Rally organisers billed it as a show of solidarity with victims and distributed “Truth, Justice, Love” banners.

Powerful words, said Michael Donnelly, 55, standing at the back of the crowd, but he said his understanding of them had been warped when he was raped, aged 13, by a Legion of Mary leader. He has spent decades trying to recover. “My life was robbed.”

The Pope’s 32-hour visit – entailing lightning trips around Dublin and to the Atlantic coast – left him unimpressed. “It’s a hit-and-run.”

Brian Hayes, 71, said clerical warnings of hellfire and damnation triggered a breakdown when he was a teenage altar boy in Limerick. “I never recovered. I’ve been isolated all my life.” He blotted out Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit with alcohol. During this papal visit he felt less alone. “I had some place to go today.”

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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