Pope Francis has met with eight survivors of clerical and institutional abuse during the first day of his visit to Ireland.
The Vatican confirmed that Francis had a 90-minute encounter with the victims at the residence of his papal ambassador to Dublin in the early evening of Saturday 25 August.
Among those included at the meeting was Marie Collins, who resigned her membership of a papal commission on child protection due to the slow pace of reform, and two people forcibly separated from their parents by a Church-run home.
Clodagh Malone and Paul Redmond said afterwards that the meeting was “cordial and polite” and that Francis described abuse in the Church as “filth” or “caca”.
"Pope Francis condemned corruption and cover-up within the church as 'caca,' " they said in a statement. “Literally filth as one sees in a toilet, his translator clarified.”
Ms Malone, the statement added, called on the Pope ”to clearly and publicly state that the natural mothers who lost their babies to adoption had done nothing wrong and call for reconciliation and reunion for these families broken by the Catholic Church.” This message, they went on, would be included in the Pope’s homily tomorrow at Phoenix Park.
Another victim who met the Pope, Fr Patrick McCafferty, a priest from Northern Ireland, described the encounter as a “truly excellent meeting in every way”.
Institutional abuse by Church-run institutions has been high on the agenda of the Pope’s visit to Dublin. Within moments after stepping off his plane at Dublin airport on Saturday morning, the Pope was met by Ireland’s Minister for Childhood, Katherine Zappone, who raised the harrowing plight of the Tuam babies, a mass grave discovered at a Church-run “mother and baby” home.
“The words said to me the airport by the Minister for Childhood still rings in my ears,” the Pope said during a speech at Dublin Castle this morning.
Francis spoke about the failure of Church leaders to respond adequately to the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said he wanted to eliminate the “scourge” of abuse at “any cost”.
This evening the Pope is seeking to shift the focus of his trip back onto the World Meeting of Families by attending a celebration of families which includes performances by Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.