Pope Francis, homophobia and child abuse in Ireland

Pope doll shop in Ireland, photo Hollandse Hoogte | Niall Carson

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The World Meeting of Families Festival has started in Ireland, a Catholic conference on the importance of the family for society and faith. A visit by Pope Francis is planned as an absolute highlight.

And that is interesting, because the pope and the Vatican are no longer undisputed in the traditionally heavily Catholic Ireland. The series of abuse scandals in which the Catholic Church is involved, of course, makes the papal visit even more fraught. …

The organization of the family festival, which is funded by the Vatican, is known for its conservative standpoints: they are against abortion, contraceptives and same sex marriages. That does not go down well with the more progressive part of the Irish population, which is taking more and more distance from the church. …

Former President Mary McAleese is one of the most famous Irish critics of the pope and the Vatican. McAleese, herself a dedicated Catholic, thinks that the church is a bastion of misogyny and calls the way in which homosexuality is spoken about in the church evil.

McAleese is therefore not enthusiastic about the festival this weekend. “It’s always been essentially a right-wing rally… and it was designed for that purpose: to rally people, to get them motivated to fight against the rise of same-sex marriage, rights for gays, abortion rights, contraceptive rights“, she said earlier on Irish radio.

During the gay marriage referendum in 2015, McAleese was one of the most important people to campaign for the YES camp. McAleese has developed over the past years into someone who calls for modernization of the church. It is also no coincidence that tonight, two days before the papal visit, a documentary about her is broadcast by the Irish public broadcaster RTÉ.

She herself is a religious Catholic, and her son is homosexual. That does not have to bite each other, she says. …

Several action groups have also indicated that they will not be silenced for the next few days: a protest of clerical child abuse victims is planned.

At least 1,000 people gathered for a silent vigil in Tuam, Co Galway to remember the Tuam Babies this afternoon, while thousands also attended the Stand4Truth event in Dublin to show solidarity with victims of institutional abuse. A large crowd gathered for the silent vigil in Tuam to coincide with the Papal mass in Dublin: here.

This 8 March 2018 video is called Catholic Church ‘an empire of misogyny‘ – Mary McAleese.

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