Pope to meet sexual abuse victims during Ireland trip

In Ireland later this month, Pope Francis might explain how, at last, the Vatican plans to get its house in order on the sexual abuse issue. (AFP pic)

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will meet victims of clergy sexual abuse during his visit to Ireland this weekend, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

Spokesman Greg Burke told reporters at a briefing on the Aug 25-26 trip that the meeting would not be announced until after it was over and that it would be up to the victims if they wanted to speak afterwards.

This is normal procedure for when the pope meets victims of clergy abuse during his trips outside Rome.

The main purpose of the trip to Ireland is to close a week-long international Catholic gathering on the theme of the family that takes place every three years in a different city.

Burke said the trip would remain focused on the family but that the pope would have many opportunities to talk about sexual abuse while in Ireland, one of several countries still reeling from abuse scandals that have hurt the Church’s prestige and credibility.

On Monday, Francis wrote an unprecedented letter to all Catholics, asking each one of them to help root out “this culture of death” and vowing there would be no more cover-ups.