Pope in Ireland: 'A golden rosary for the Mother' at Knock

In Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis travelled to Knock Shrine where he entrusted the families of the world to Mary, that they “may be a bulwark of faith and goodness" resisting “all that would diminish our dignity as men and women created in God’s image and called to the sublime destiny of eternal life.” The pontiff called for prayers for the victims of sexual abuse. He greeted the people of Northern Ireland and the prison inmates who wrote to him.

Knock (AsiaNews) – As part of his visit during the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis travelled today to the Knock Shrine, a destination for Marian pilgrimages.

The Knock Shrine is located about 200 km northwest of Dublin, on a site where the Virgin appeared, along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist, near angels around an altar on which laid a sacrificed lamb, symbol of Jesus Christ.

After praying in silence in the Apparition Chapel, the Holy Father spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the shrine’s parvis. “As a remembrance of my visit,” he said, “I have presented the Shrine with a golden rosary. I know how important the tradition of the family rosary has been in this country. Who can tell how many hearts, of fathers, mothers and children alike, have drawn comfort and strength over the years from meditating on Our Lady’s participation in the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of Christ’s life!

For families, the pontiff asked Mary to support them “to advance Christ’s Kingdom” that they “may “be a bulwark of faith and goodness, resisting [. . .] all that would diminish our dignity as men and women created in God’s image and called to the sublime destiny of eternal life.”

It must be said that in 2015, a referendum in Ireland granted complete equality to heterosexual and same-sex marriages. For many, the outcome of the referendum was the result of the break between the Irish Church and Irish society caused by the scandal of sexual abuse of minors.

Speaking to the faithful, the pope said that he had presented to Our Lady "all the victims of abuse of whatever kind committed by members of the Church in Ireland" as well as the children snatched from single mothers (a practice that was widespread in the 20th century that was recently discovered and denounced).

“None of us can fail to be moved by the stories of young people who suffered abuse, were robbed of their innocence and left scarred by painful memories. This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice. I beg the Lord’s forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God’s family. I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.

The pontiff dedicated one last thought, before the Angelus prayer, to the people of Northern Ireland, “that they may persevere, as brothers and sisters, in the work of reconciliation."

"I pray,” he said “that all the disciples of Christ may continue their efforts to advance the peace process and build a harmonious and just society for the children of today, be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, all children of Ireland."

After the Marian prayer, Francis greeted the "men and women who are in prison" and who, knowing that he was coming to Ireland, wrote to him. "I am close to you," he said, "very close ... May Mary, Mother of mercy, watch over you and strengthen you in faith and hope."