Pope Francis is in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. In his first address, he denounced "the failure of the ecclesiastical authorities" in dealing with pedophilia offences, a scourge that must be eliminated at any cost. Families play a unique role in education and society. A spiritual foundation is needed in society to avoid injustices, indifference towards the poor, including the unborn, and to welcome migrants.
Dublin (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis arrived in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday morning for his 24th Apostolic Journey. During his stay, he will participate in the World Meeting of Families.
In his first address, he spoke before Irish Prime Minister (Taoisech) Leo Varadkar, political and religious authorities, the diplomatic corps and representatives of civil society in Dublin Castle.
“It is my prayer,” the pontiff said, “that Ireland, in listening to the polyphony of contemporary political and social discussion, will not be forgetful of the powerful strains of the Christian message that have sustained it in the past, and can continue to do so in the future.”
The Holy Father, who left Rome this morning, arrived at Dublin Airport at around 10:25 (local time), travelling immediately to the official residence of the Irish president in the capital, where he was welcomed by President Michael D. Higgins and his wife (pictured).
The pope has come to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families against the backdrop of the pedophilia scandal involving members of the local clergy, a situation that has shaken the Irish Church since 2009. As a result, Ireland withdrew its ambassador to the Holy See between 2011 to 2014, albeit the official reason given was to save money.
Speaking about that period, Francis noted that “an occasional cloud” should not undo “many years of dynamic cooperation and harmony” with the Holy See. Still, the impact on religious practice in the country has been significant. Although the population of the Irish Republic is almost 90 per cent Catholic, only 40 per cent regularly attend Sunday Mass.
In light of this, the Pope cited Benedict XVI’s Pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland of 2010, in which the Pope Emeritus denounced the "betrayal of trust” by the clergy. Likewise, in his speech, Francis slammed “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others” to “adequately address these repellent crimes [which] has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.”
In his recent Letter to the People of God, he notes the urgency of using all means to get rid of this scourge, at any cost. At the same time, he asserts that “The Church in Ireland, past and present, has played a role in promoting the welfare of children that cannot be obscured. [. . .] Today as in the past, the men and women who live in this country strive to enrich the life of the nation with the wisdom born of their faith.”
Citing the prime motive for his journey. Francis went on to say: “As you know, the reason for my visit is to take part in the World Meeting of Families, held this year in Dublin”, thus highlighting its importance for families and society. “The Meeting is not only an opportunity for families to reaffirm their commitment to loving fidelity, mutual assistance and reverence for God’s gift of life in all its forms, but also to testify to the unique role played by the family in the education of its members and the development of a sound and flourishing social fabric.”
“It was in the family that each of us took his or her first steps in life. There we learned to live together in harmony, to master our selfish instincts and reconcile our differences, and above all to discern and seek those values that give authentic meaning and fulfilment to our lives. If we speak of our entire world as a single family, it is because we rightly acknowledge the bonds of our common humanity and we sense our call to unity and solidarity, especially with the weakest of our brothers and sisters.
“Yet all too often, we feel impotent before the persistent evils of racial and ethnic hatred, intractable conflicts and violence, contempt for human dignity and for fundamental human rights, and the growing divide between rich and poor. How much we need to recover, in every instance of political and social life, the sense of being a true family of peoples! And never to lose hope or the courage to persevere in the moral imperative to be peacemakers, reconcilers and guardians of one another.”
“Families,” he stressed, “are the glue of society; their welfare cannot be taken for granted, but must be promoted and protected by every appropriate means.” What is more, “true peace is ultimately God’s gift; it flows from a healed and reconciled heart and branches out to embrace the entire world.” For this reason, it is important to base society on “spiritual resources”. Indeed, “Without that spiritual foundation our ideal of a global family of nations risks becoming no more than another empty platitude.”
As evidence of the need for spiritual foundations in society, he cited social injustices, indifference to the poorest ("including the unborn, deprived of the very right to life"), and the “refugee crisis, which will not go away, and whose solution calls for a wisdom, a breadth of vision and a humanitarian concern that go far beyond short-term political decisions.”