Irish priest hopes Pope’s visit will ‘drive home’ anti-corruption message

An Irish priest who campaigns for street children in the Philippines has said he is heartened by the Pope’s visit, but wished the Pontiff had been “a little more forthright about the terrible conditions” faced by children in the country.

Columban missionary Fr Shay Cullen, who highlighted the plight of Manila’s street children ahead of the visit, told The Irish Catholic he is pleased that the Pope has “shone a highlight on the issue”.

Expressing the hope that Pope Francis’ “presence and charisma” will encourage people to act on his words, Fr Cullen explained that the government has been aiming to build a legacy based “on the straight and narrow course of anti-corruption”, and that the Pope’s comments will have driven home how much remains to be done.

While Fr Cullen said his exposé of the placing of street children into detention centres before Pope Francis visited caused “lots of heartache for the government and government officials”, he was sceptical about the long-term effect.

He said the government already knows what needs to be done. The problem, he said, is that it “lacks the political will” to do it.