Pope in Ireland – level 3
Pope Francis travelled to Ireland last weekend in the first papal visit to the country since 1979 when Pope John Paul II drew crowds of 2.7 million.
The current Pope expected to attract a fraction of that number (around 500,000) due to a series of scandals which undermined the once-powerful position of the Catholic Church.
Beginning in the 1990s, a series of criminal cases established that hundreds of priests had abused thousands of children over decades. Police convicted six Irish priests between 1975 and 2001.
The economic boom in the 1990s (which opened up Ireland to the world), the abortion referendum and legalising gay marriage also signalled changes in the nation’s attitude.
Pope Francis met Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, and the head of government Leo Eric Varadkar at Dublin castle where they gave a speech. His Holiness expressed pain and shame at the failure of church authorities regarding the scandals.
The historic visit to the country ended after the Holy Father attended a Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park where he begged forgiveness for the cases of sex abuse.
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