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Pope compares church sexual abuse, corruption to excrement, victims say

Pope compares church sexual abuse, corruption to excrement, victims say

DUBLIN-Pope Francis voiced "pain and shame" over the abuse of children by Catholic priests, addressing the church's global abuse scandal in his first speech in Ireland, one of the countries hit hardest by it. He added: "I myself share those sentiments".

The abuse scandal - which has exploded anew in the US but has convulsed Ireland since the 1990s with revelations of unfathomable violence and humiliation against women and children - took centre stage on the first day of Francis' two-day trip.

But neither Francis' words nor a new meeting with abuse victims is likely to calm the outrage among rank-and-file Catholics following new revelations of sexual misconduct and cover-up in the United States, an ongoing crisis in Chile and prosecutions of top clerics in Australia and France.

One of the victims of Fr Tony Walsh, a priest and serial abuser who assaulted hundreds of children over almost two decades, was also present but preferred to remain anonymous.

Another of the eight who met the Argentinian pontiff was Paul Jude Redmond, whose mother was one of thousands of "fallen" Irish women who were locked up in Catholic-run institutions for being pregnant and unmarried.

"He is welcome as a guest but he is going to have to take action rather than repeat platitudes if we are really going to have any respect for the Church generally", said Helen Carey, a visual arts curator, walking past Dublin Castle where the state reception will be held.

Pope Francis greets the public as he travels through the city in the Popemobile on August 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

The Vatican was rocked this month by a devastating U.S. report into child sex abuse that accused more than 300 priests in the state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who previous year became Ireland's first gay leader, told Francis that the wounds of clerical child abuse that stained the Irish state were still open and there was much to be done to bring about justice and healing for victims.

Pope Francis has departed for Ireland, the first papal visit to that traditionally Roman Catholic country since 1979.

Irish society is virtually unrecognisable from that time. Irish voters in recent years have turned their backs on core Catholic teachings.

After speaking to families at St. Mary's Pro Cathedral on Marlborough Street, the Pontiff made his way down O'Connell Street to loud cheers before crossing the River Liffey.

"I think it's absolutely marvellous".

After the Irish church atoned for its past and enacted tough new norms to fight abuse, it had been looking to the first visit by a pope in 40 years to show a different, more caring church that understands the problems of ordinary Catholic families.

In the evening, he will join pilgrims at a musical festival in the landmark Croke Park Gaelic Athletic Association stadium. They are asking him to publicly state that their mothers had done nothing wrong and to encourage reconciliation between all unwed mothers, many of them now aged, who were forced by society and the church to give up their children.

The letter directly referred to the Pennsylvania report, which "detailed the experiences of at least 1,000 survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately 70 years", the Pope wrote. It is his prayer, he said, that as the country listens to the contemporary political and social discussion, it will not forget its Christian heritage.