Wednesday 20 March 2019

'I will tell Pope of my concerns over Church sex abuse' - Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Photo: INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Photo: INM

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will express his concerns to the Pope about the Catholic Church's history of sexual and physical abuse when Francis visits Ireland later this month.

The Taoiseach also said he intends to tell him that Ireland accepts gay parents.

Pope Francis will visit Dublin and Knock on the weekend of August 25 and 26 at the invitation of the World Meeting of Families 2018.

As part of his visit, he will go to the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin and the Knock Shrine.

However, it is not yet clear whether he will meet victims of clerical abuse.

Mr Varadkar said that while his meeting with the Pope could be short, he will express his concerns about issues such as the Church's involvement in Magdalene Laundries.

"I'm really glad the Pope is visiting Ireland, the visit is very welcome," Mr Varadkar said.

"He is the religious leader of a billion people and head of state and I'm pleased he is saying Mass in Phoenix Park and at Knock. You can see the huge interest from the general public.


"I'm not sure of the exact details of my interaction with him. It may be very short, but first of all I will want to welcome him to Ireland on behalf of the Irish people.

"If the opportunity arises, I will certainly want to express to him the real concerns that Irish people have on the legacy of the past, in relation to issues such as the Church's involvement in Magdalene Laundries, in mother and baby homes and sexual and physical abuse and relay that to him.

"And also our views in society and the Government's view that families come in all sorts of different forms and that includes families led by same-sex parents and one-parent families."

In June, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan criticised the Catholic Church, saying women should be allowed to be ordained. Her comments came after she stepped in to lead prayers at a church in Dublin.

Mr Varadkar added his support for the ordination of women as Catholic priests, but said the Government has no proposals to enforce this.

"When I say my view is that women in the Catholic Church should be allowed to become priests, of course that applies in the synagogues and mosques," he added.

"But I also believe in the freedom of religion and the fact that we should have separation of religion and State and the religious bodies make their own laws.

"There's a big difference between saying what you think and deciding on whether you are going to use the power of the law to enforce on it, and we have no proposals to force these things on any religion."

Mr Varadkar also said he does not like burqas, but has no plans to ban them like some other EU countries have done.

"I don't like it, but I think people are entitled to wear what they want to wear," he said.

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