Papal visit inadequate on abuse – survey

Papal visit inadequate on abuse – survey

Most Irish people believe Pope Francis did not do enough to address clerical abuse during his recent papal visit to Ireland, according to new research.

Only 30% of people believe the Pope did enough on the issue during the visit, according to a survey of 840 people by Queen’s University in Belfast, which also found that only 31% believed the visit for the World Meeting of Families was a “healing time for victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse”.

Thirty-six percent of people believed this was not the case.

This perspective is seemingly at odds with comments made by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) during their annual general meeting last week, which was attended by around 120 priests.

A draft letter to Ireland’s bishops, presented at the AGM, said the expectations around the papal visit were “derailed” because of a focus on the clerical abuse crisis.

The draft letter described the visit as “a strange few days. On the one hand, the palpable delight of so many…and the lift it has given to the Irish Church. On the other, a sinking feeling that the visit and the expectations it generated were derailed by an unexpected, though not unpredicted, focus on the sexual abuse issue.”

Commenting on the document, abuse survivor and activist Marie Collins wrote on Twitter: “Irish priests feel Pope’s visit was ‘derailed’ by ‘focus on sexual abuse issue’. They couldn’t have the issue and the survivors ignored as they would have wished.

“Says so much about the attitude still alive and well in the Church in Ireland today – despite all,” she continued, adding that she acknowledges not all priests in Ireland hold this view.

The report also found that 39% of practicing Catholics who did not attend any papal events stayed home as they believed travelling to the events would be too difficult, with 22% not being interested and 18% opposed to how the Church has handled abuse.

“Even a Pope as popular as Francis cannot distract from the widespread dismay about the way that the Church has handled clerical sexual abuse,” said QUB research fellow and survey designer Dr Gladys Ganiel.