Pope ‘begs for God’s forgiveness’ for sexual abuse scandal

Calls for firm measures in response to child abuse charges

Pope Francis in Ireland on Sunday “begged for God’s forgiveness” for the child sexual abuse scandal rocking the church but faced accusations by a former Vatican official that he had personally ignored allegations against senior clergy.

During Sunday’s address to 45,000 supporters at the rain-soaked Knock shrine in the west of the country, the Pope “begged for God’s forgiveness” for the “open wound” of the scandal and demanded “firm and decisive” measures to find “truth and justice”.

The scandal has dogged the visit, and intensified overnight when a former Vatican envoy to the U.S. accused Pope Francis of personally ignoring sexual abuse claims against prominent U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was forced to resign last month.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote in a letter published in the National Catholic Register that he had told Pope Francis of the allegations in 2013, but that he had responded by lifting sanctions imposed on McCarrick by predecessor Pope Benedict.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Saturday directly urged the Pope to take action against abuses and ensure justice for victims worldwide. Pope Francis said inaction over “these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments”.

In a strongly-worded speech at the start of the Pope’s visit, Mr. Varadkar said the abuses in Ireland were “stains” on the Catholic Church, the state and Irish society as a whole.

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