Pope Francis to meet Irish church sex abuse victims

Pope Francis Image copyright Reuters

Pope Francis will meet victims of clergy sexual abuse during his first visit to the Republic of Ireland, the Vatican has said.

He will become the first Pope to visit Ireland in almost 40 years on Saturday.

The Vatican said the meeting would not be announced until after it was over and that it would be up to victims if they wanted to speak afterwards.

Pope Francis' visit coincides with the World Meeting of Families - a global gathering of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis has condemned the "atrocities" of child sex abuse by clerics and cover-ups in the Church.

He published a letter to the world's 1.2bn Catholics on Monday, addressing failures to deal with abuse and calling for an end to the "culture of death".

The head of Ireland's Catholic Church has said he expected Pope Francis to meet victims of clerical sex abuse during his time in Ireland.

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The Pope's 36-hour visit will begin on Saturday morning and finish with a Papal Mass at Dublin's Phoenix Park on Sunday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The specially-constructed stage for the Papal Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin

The World Meeting of Families is held every three years, with thousands of people from across the world gathering for it.

It includes a three-day congress with speakers, workshops and discussions due to address the event's theme of the importance of family in the Catholic faith.

It is the first time the event has been held in Ireland and it is due to open on Tuesday evening.

All Catholic dioceses in Ireland will mark the launch by ringing bells in each of the 26 diocesan cathedrals.

Pope to attend concert

The last time a pontiff visited the country was in 1979, when Pope John Paul II made an appeal for the end all violence and a return to "the ways of peace".

On Saturday evening the Pope will attend the Festival of Families concert in Dublin's Croke Park stadium.

More than 70,000 people are expected to take part, with the world-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli due to perform.

Other acts on the bill include Nathan Carter, Daniel O'Donnell, Moya Brennan, the Begley Family and the Priests.

The pontiff will travel to County Mayo on Sunday morning for a visit to Knock Shrine.

He will return to Dublin for an afternoon mass in front of an estimated 500,000 people in Phoenix Park to close the World Meeting of Families.

Papal visit to Ireland: Itinerary highlights

Saturday 25 August

  • 08:15 - Departure by plane from Rome for Dublin
  • 10:30 - Arrival at Dublin Airport for official welcome
  • 10:45 - Transfer to Áras an Uachtaráin (Irish president's residence)
  • 11:15 - Welcome ceremony with President Michael D Higgins
  • 12:10 - Arrival at Dublin Castle for meeting with authorities, civil society and diplomatic corps
  • 15:30 - Visit to St Mary's Pro Cathedral
  • 16:30 - Private visit to the Capuchin Day Centre, a centre for homeless people
  • 19:45 - Preside at the Festival of Families at Croke Park stadium

Sunday 26 August

  • 08:40 - Departure by plane for Knock
  • 09:45 - Arrival at Knock Shrine for visit to the Apparition Chapel and recitation of the Angelus
  • 11:15 - Departure by plane for Dublin
  • 12:30 - Lunch with the Papal Delegation
  • 15:00 - Closing Papal Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park followed by a meeting with the Irish bishops
  • 18:30 - Farewell ceremony at Dublin Airport
  • 18:45 - Departure by plane for Rome
  • 23:00 - Arrival in Rome

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