Right Now: Pope Francis is traveling to Ireland for a two-day visit.
Pope Francis is making the first papal visit to Ireland in 39 years, joining Catholics from around the world, but the celebrations will be held in the shadow of unrelenting revelations of sexual abuse and cover-ups that have eroded the moral authority and unity of the church.
The pope has struggled to satisfy enraged survivors of abuse by clergy, who have accused him of failing to speak or act forcefully enough to expose and punish wrongdoing, and his every public utterance will be parsed for whether and how he addresses the scandals.
Francis, who last week lamented “we showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” will meet with abuse survivors in Ireland, the Vatican has said, but there was no mention of the topic in his official public schedule for the trip, originally designed as a celebration of families.
No nation has been hit harder by the church’s scandals than Ireland, once a citadel of conservative Catholicism where church and state were closely entwined for generations, and perhaps none has moved more sharply away from church teachings.
• Ireland has changed quite a bit since the last papal visit, but the same could be said of the papacy: Francis has signaled a more tolerant approach to gays than his predecessors, and has put less emphasis on abortion.
• Not everyone is pleased with the pope and his visit: Some people have signed up for tickets to his appearances and plan to not use them, and others are unhappy with his relatively lenient views.
• The visit is centered on the World Meeting of Families, a gathering to put a focus on the importance of marriage and the family.
• The New York Times will have live coverage from Ireland throughout the pope’s two-day visit.
A group representing survivors of clerical sexual abuse around the world issued a list of demands to Francis on Friday, including a “zero tolerance” church law, meaning that priests who molested children and superiors who protected abusers would be defrocked.
Ending Clerical Abuse, which has identified victims from over 172 countries worldwide, also called on the church to publicly identify abusive clerics, and to prosecute complicit bishops in church tribunals.
“We need to know who these sex offenders are, just like we need to know who these bishops are, because you know who they are, and you know what they’ve done,” Peter Isely, a survivor from Milwaukee and a founding member of the group, said at a news conference. “We’re not talking about unproven allegations, we’re talking about proven allegations, and who’s proven it? You’ve proven it.”
The demands followed reports that Cardinal Sean O’Malley, whom Francis had appointed to head a commission to address the crisis, had ignored word of sexual abuse accusations against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington. Cardinal O’Malley withdrew from the World Families’ Meeting being held in Dublin.
Ending Clerical Abuse said that the commission had failed, and it had low expectations for the pope’s visit.
Cardinal O’Malley “hasn’t done the job, it’s clear,” Mr. Isely said. “This is a global problem and it’s going to take a global solution.”
— Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura
Just as it would be hard to overstate how much Ireland has changed since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979, this is also a very different pope, navigating a different world.
John Paul II, the first non-Italian pontiff in four and a half centuries, rode a historic wave of popularity and became a global symbol of resistance to communism during the Cold War, and in Dublin he drew what was called the largest crowd in Irish history. Vigorous and young by papal standards, at 59, he visited several countries on three continents that year, his first full year leading the church.
He did not stray far from church doctrine, reiterating during his Irish trip the church’s opposition to abortion, contraception and divorce.
Francis, 81, cuts a quieter, less imposing figure, and has aired more liberal views. He has said the church should be less fixated on gays, abortion and birth control, but he has not altered church doctrine on those issues.
— Elisabetta Povoledo
Some critics of Pope Francis couldn’t wait to apply for tickets for his appearances in Ireland — and then not use them.
A protest called “Say Nope to the Pope” encouraged critics of the church to snap up free tickets and then skip the events.
It has gained more than 10,000 supporters on its Facebook page, and has been much discussed on radio, in the papers and on the streets. One protester claimed to have reserved more than 1,000 tickets under various assumed names, including Jesus Christ.
There are plenty of Irish Catholics with grievances against the church — survivors of abuse by priests, women who were forced to give up children for adoption or bury them under mother-and-baby homes, poor people who had no choice but to work without pay in church-run facilities.
And then there are the many Irish who have rebelled against the church and its sway over government policy, or have just drifted away from the faith.
But even some of the critics of Pope Francis and his church find the “Say Nope” protest in bad taste. Elaine Barrett, 29, said she had plenty of problems with the church and looked forward to the day “when it’s taken out of the schools.”
But, she said, she thought it was wrong to deny people who wanted to pray with the pope the opportunity to do so.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, called the protest “petty and meanspirited.”
— Jason Horowitz
The pope’s visit is centered around the ninth World Meeting of Families, which the church describes as a gathering to reflect upon the importance of marriage and the family at a time when their definitions and boundaries are being contested around the world.
Pope John Paul II called the first meeting in 1994, to coincide with the United Nations’ International Year of the Family, and it has been held every three years since then, each time in a different city. Philadelphia played host in 2015. This year’s meeting is in Dublin and began on Tuesday; the pope will take part in the last two of its six days.
The themes of the meeting have been drawn from Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), and reflect some of his enduring concerns: the impact of conflict — from war to domestic strife — on families and children, the role of education in raising people out of poverty, economic and environmental sustainability, and the leadership roles of women. Organizers of the event note that only 20 percent of the speakers and panelists are clergy members.
Francis will deliver a speech to the Festival of Families at Croke Park Stadium on Saturday evening and will celebrate Mass in a park on Sunday afternoon.
— Elisabetta Povoledo
One event at the gathering prompted controversy long before it took place: A presentation on the church “showing welcome and respect” to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, by the Rev. James Martin, who published a book on the topic last year.
Conservative protesters have gathered at his public readings from the book, “Building a Bridge,” and a petition to ban him from the World Meeting of Families collected thousands of signatures.
But the talk, delivered on Thursday to more than 1,200 people, passed without incident. Mr. Martin, editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, said he spent three hours afterward signing books and talking with people, who were largely supportive of his view.
“One bishop told me, ‘Just the fact that they invited you is a sign,’ ” he said.
In recent years, there has been much debate among Catholics about whether to expand the definition of families to include people who have divorced and remarried, as well as L.G.B.T. people, and of what role such people can play in parishes. Pope Francis welcomed that discussion during two synods on the family, in 2014 and 2015, but there was considerable resistance from conservatives in the church.
“Most L.G.B.T. Catholics feel like lepers in the church,” Mr. Martin said in his talk. Being Christian, he added, means standing up for “the marginalized, the persecuted, the beaten down.”
— Elisabetta Povoledo
An ultraconservative Catholic group, the Lumen Fidei Institute, has been holding a rival gathering in Dublin, criticizing Francis for pushing a “watered-down” version of Christian values and for adopting a more open view about gays in the Church.
Anthony Murphy, founder of the organization, told Crux, a Catholic news service, that bishops had become “embarrassed” to preach the Gospel.
The group, made up of lay people, invited Marton Gyongyosi, the vice-president of Jobbik, a Hungarian right-wing party, to speak about the “Threat of Islam to Christian Europe.”
On Thursday, Mr. Gyongyosi told a packed audience at a hotel, where the goodie bags included a book titled “How to Avoid Purgatory,” that people must “fight against migration,” and against liberal politicians who “don’t accept the Christian values of our civilization.”
Mr. Murphy strongly opposes the liberalization of church views, and said that inviting Mr. Martin to speak at the family gathering had been a “sign of the corruption in the church.”
“It’s ridiculous,” he told Crux. “These men, or are they mice, encounter a world, certainly the Western world, which is turning against God’s plan for family and marriage, and instead of countering that with an authenticity, they water down the truth and they give a message which is politically correct.”
— Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura