During his visit to Ireland on Saturday, Pope Francis condemned the historic record of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, calling such crimes "appalling," and claiming that any outrage is "justified."
According to CNN, the Pope denounced this widespread clerical abuse and cover-ups within the church in a speech delivered to both religious and political leaders in Dublin Castle on Saturday afternoon. "I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education," Pope Francis said.
"The failure of ecclesiastical authorities -- bishops, religious superiors, priests and others -- adequately to address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community," the Pope continued. "I myself share those sentiments."
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, however, was the first to broach the topic on Saturday, specifically referencing the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Said report recently revealed that over 300 Catholic priests in the state have been accused of child sexual abuse within the last 71 years.
Speaking right before the Holy Father, Varadkar said, "In recent weeks, we have all listened to heart-breaking stories from Pennsylvania of brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church, and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims."
"It is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland," the Prime Minister noted, calling on the Pope to implement a zero tolerance policy for clerical pedophilia.
"Holy Father," Varadkar continued, "I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the world," going on to request that Pope Francis listen to the victims of this widespread abuse, as well. The Pope is scheduled to meet with a few of the abuse victims later on in his visit to the nation, the first papal visit to Ireland in 39 years.
The Pope is expected to celebrate a mass in Phoenix Park Sunday afternoon. All 500,000 tickets have been claimed for the free event. Not everyone with a ticket, however, is attending the event out of pure religious interest. A group of organizers called "Say Nope to the Pope" plan showing up at the event to protest the Pope and the Catholic church as a whole for their complacency and to show solidarity for the thousands of victims of abuse. According to the group's Facebook page, their overall goal is to "show the Church they don't have the control they used to."
Marie Collins, a survivor of child sexual abuse who was assaulted by a priest when she was thirteen, told CNN, "What I would like to see when the Pope comes to Ireland, is to come out, not make these sort of 'we're sorry,' type of statements, but to tell us what is he going to do -- and do it."