Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar to raise concerns over abuse when Pope visits

Francis will visit Dublin and Knock on the weekend of August 25 and 26.

Leo Varadkar has said he will express his concerns to the Pope about the Catholic Church’s involvement with sexual and physical abuse when he visits later this month.

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

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

As part of his visit, the Pope 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.

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 Leo Varadkar

Mr Varadkar said that while his meeting with the Pope at Dublin Castle 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 my interaction with him is going to be.

“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 as well.”

Mr Varadkar also said that he does not like burqas, but has no plans to ban them like other EU countries including Denmark, France and Spain.

“I don’t like it but I think people are entitled to wear what they want to wear,” he said.

In June, culture minister Josepha Madigan criticised the Catholic Church, saying that women should be allowed to be ordained.

Her comments came after Ms Madigan stepped in to lead prayers at a church in Dublin after a priest failed to show up.

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

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

“I don’t think there’s any positions in society or jobs that women should be banned from.”

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