Pope speaks of ‘forgiveness’ at mega rally hours after meeting abuse survivors

Pope Francis gave a speech about ‘forgiving people’ in front of more than 80,000 people at a mega mass in Dublin tonight.

Pope Francis delivered his address and heard five testimonies by families from Ireland, Canada, India, Iraq, and Africa about the importance of family in the modern age.

The concert-type event was held to mark the end of the World Meeting of Families 2018, including performances by Andrea Bocelli, The Riverdance Troupe, Nathan Carter, Dana Masters and Daniel O’Donnell.

During his speech he said: “To hate is human. To forgive is divine."

He then got the crowd to repeat “sorry, please and thank you” a number of times.

His comments came just hours after he met with eight Irish survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse following wide condemnation of the Catholic Church’s handling of multiple clerical abuse scandals.

During the first day of his weekend visit he was met by protesters angry at how the church dealt with abuse scandals that have damaged trust in the religious institution and seriously weakened its influence on Irish society.

An abuse survivor who met him earlier said he condemned the corruption and cover up within the Catholic Church as “caca,” meaning ‘excrement’ in English.

A Vatican spokesman said: “Pope Francis met early Saturday evening for an hour and half with eight Irish survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse.”

But the Pope made no comment on the issue of abuse within the church during his speech at Croke Park tonight.

During the event he heard from a Christian family who had been forced to flee to Australia from Iraq to escape ISIS.

A man, called Rami, said his brother, who was a Catholic priest, was killed by ISIS and then they lost their father to cancer.

There were also numerous performances from local acts and people around the world.

Rita Coyne from Dublin watched the show along with her friend Mary Byrne, and said she was uplifted by the amount of young people involved.

"It’s brilliant, it’s very different, it’s very beautiful, so different from what I expected, I found it very joyful.

"The young people involved, the colours and the dancers have been super.

"It’s been absolutely lovely."

The selection of themes throughout the night reflected the priorities in the ministry of the Pope, including homelessness, migrants and refugees and care for our common home.

Nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth, Sister Francis Kelly and Sister Celine came to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and say the concert was the perfect end to an excellent week.

Earlier today the Pope gave a talk at Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless in front of a group of disadvantaged people who use the centre and thanked them for trusting the Capuchin fathers.

“They help you without taking away your dignity,” he said.

“That’s the face of Jesus Christ.” The Pope offered a blessing to those in attendance before meeting a number of volunteers who work in the centre.

Before visiting the homeless centre he met newlywed and engaged couples and even made a few jokes about marriage at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

He also sat for a number of minutes of silent prayer at an altar that houses a perpetually lit candle for the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Fans waved flags and screamed during his drive to and from the cathedral as one little girl was seen waving a flag featuring his picture while others brandished white flags with hearts on.

Another fan held a banner saying ‘Bless Me Papa’ while women raised their arms in the air in a bid to get his attention.

However, amid the cheers from supporters, protesters shouted and swore at him as he passed the entrance to Dublin Castle on Dame Street.

One protester held up a shocking banner accusing the Pope of being the ‘head of the biggest paedophile ring in the history of man.’

Earlier he spoke of the failure of church authorities to tackle the grave scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

The Pope confronted the issue in a speech at Dublin Castle, saying he shared the feelings of "pain and shame".

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Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland

  • When is the Pope’s visit?
  • Andrea Bocelli to perform
  • Pope’s itinerary
  • Why is the Pope visiting Ireland

On the first day of his trip to the country, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the "repellent crimes" inflicted on young people.

His words followed the Irish Prime Minister’s speech who referred to cases of clergy child abuse as ‘stains on our church and society’.

And one of a number of protests against clerical child sexual abuse was held near the castle this morning.

Banners were unfurled at Dublin’s Dame Street demanding redress for victims and an end to what they see as a Papal cover-up.

Many at the protest were from the global survivors network End Clergy Abuse who had baby shoes tied around their neck in protest for the children who died in the Mother and Baby Homes across Ireland.

This is the first papal visit since 1979.

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