Vatican confirms pope will meet abuse survivors in Ireland

IMAGE: CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will meet survivors of
sexual abuse during his trip to Ireland Aug. 25-26, but it will be up to the
survivors to decide whether any information about the meeting will be released,
said the director of the Vatican press office.

Greg Burke, press director, told reporters Aug. 21 that
from the moment the Vatican decided the World Meeting of Families 2018 would be
in Dublin, it was clear that the pope would have to acknowledge the crimes
committed against thousands of Irish Catholics by priests in parishes and by
priests, religious brothers and nuns in schools, orphanages and other

The date, time and location of the meeting and the list of
survivors invited will not be released until after the meeting, and then only
with the permission of the survivors taking part, Burke said.

Pope Francis wants the trip to focus on families, Burke
said, which is why he is not going to Northern Ireland on the same visit. Even
the moments dictated by protocol — for example, meetings with government
officials — will focus on the family, he said.

Asked whether the pope and the Vatican were concerned that
with renewed media attention on clerical sexual abuse the theme would
overshadow the pope’s focus on the family, Burke responded, “Any trip to
Ireland was not only going to be about the family.”

“The pope is well rested and ready and wants to talk
about the family,” Burke said.

However, in discussing the individual events on the pope’s
schedule in Ireland, the spokesman also mentioned that Aug. 25 Pope Francis
would begin his visit to Dublin’s co-cathedral by praying silently before a
candle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel that burns for the abuse survivors.

Without providing details, Burke also said the pope would
talk about abuse in at least one of his speeches during the trip.

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