The Pope in Ireland

Full coverage of Pope Francis in Ireland

Sorcha Pollak Fri, Aug 24
LIVE: The Pope in Ireland

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  • 21:38
    The great Andrea Bocelli takes to the stage once again and that's where we will end our live coverage of the pope's visit for tonight. We will resume live coverage tomorrow morning as the pope travels to Knock and the Phoenix Park on day two of his visit to Ireland.
  • 21:33
    Pope Francis ends his address at Croke Park and receives a standing ovation from the crowd.
  • 21:25
    "A society that does not value grandparents is a society that has no future," he adds.
  • 21:14
    "When you use social media too much you go into a sort of an orbit where at the dinner tabel where instead of talking to each other, each of you uses your phone to connect to the outside world... this is dangerous," says the pope.
  • 20:58
    The pope says children need to be baptised straight away. That sentiment gets a good response from the crowd.
  • 20:56
  • 20:55
    The pope is now addressing the crowd at Croke Park.
  • 20:12
    A choir is singing Bob Dylan's Forever Young. The pope has just finished speaking with some families in Croke Park.
  • 19:58
    Now Daniel O'Donnell is out.
  • 19:53
    The pope is now watching a live performance of Riverdance in Croke Park.
  • 19:37
    Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin on Saturday afternoon to catch a glimpse of  Pope Francis  as he made his way across the city in his popemobile, writes Conor Pope.
  • 19:35
    The pope is being driven around Croke Park in a golf buggy now.
  • 19:09
  • 19:08
  • 18:44
  • 18:00
  • 17:59
    Sorcha Pollak here signing off the live blog for today. I'm handing you over to my colleague Dan Griffin @dangriffinIT who will be posting updates into the evening. We'll be back again tomorrow for the live coverage of day 2 of the Pope's visit and the Mass in Phoenix Park.  
  • 17:55
  • 17:54
  • 17:51

    What not to bring to tomorrow’s papal mass

    • A wee reminder for anyone heading to Phoenix Park tomorrow afternoon that Air horns, animals, alcohol and drones are among the items banned from the papal Mass.
    • Also on the list are deckchairs, garden furniture, blow up furniture, folding armchairs, shooting sticks and stools. The World Meeting of Families’ website warns “any item which may reasonably be considered for use as a weapon” is prohibited.  
    • The single exception to the ban on animals is for guide dogs.
    • Organisers have said not to bring banners of any size, bicycles, cooking or camping equipment or cooler boxes or other forms of large containers.
    • In terms of clothing people should not wear helmets, protective headware or protective clothing.
    • Small amounts of batteries will be tolerated but not excessive wires, cables or electrical components .
    • There will be zero tolerance for fireworks and flares, glass bottles and illegal substances or illegal merchandise of any description.
    • Flagpoles are also banned.
    • Size matters in relation to prams, umbrellas, chains, spiked bracelets or wallet chains as well as flags, placards, posters and sticks.
    • Lasers and laser pens are also on the probhbited list, as are mobility scooters.
    • Those looking for a “selfie” with the Pope in the background have been told selfie sticks will not be tolerated.
    • Smoke canisters, sound systems and spray cans are on the the list of banned items.
  • 17:48

    ‘You can’t be holy and have a sex life’

    Long before the grotesque revelations of clerical child abuse, the Irish had to endure a religion and religious-run education system that sought to inoculate them against sexual desire by teaching them disgust for their own bodies. Sometimes this worked, writes Sean Moncrieff in today’s Irish Times.

    “Sometimes people struggled through it and overcame the self-hatred. But it always came at a cost. It damaged countless people.

    "It’s not clear why the church dislikes sex so much, other than it always has. St Paul was notoriously anti-sex. In the fourth century, Saint Jerome declared “marriage populates the earth; virginity populates heaven”. And while there were practical reasons for enforcing celibacy on the clergy, abstinence from sex was always regarded as a more ‘pure’ state.

    "But most famously, the woman who gave birth to Jesus was a virgin, and according to Catholic belief remained that way for the rest of her life. Holiness and a sex life are consistently depicted as incompatible."

  • 17:43
  • 17:38
  • 17:36

    Can I take the Luas this evening?

    Normal services resumed on the Luas Red Line at 5pm while Green Line   services resumed at 5.30pm.  

    Dublin Bus will continue to operate its normal Saturday service with diversions in place while Irish Rail is also operating a normal service.  

  • 17:31
    Don't forget that road closures throughout the city centre will remain in place until 7pm (and some until 11pm) today.  
  • 17:30
    The next and final stop of the day for the Pope will be at Croke Park at 7.30pm for the festival of families where he will speak to an estimated 82,000 people.  
  • 17:19

    Who exactly is Pope Francis?

    As the Pope continues his tour of Dublin we take a look back at the life of the Argentine bishop who was the first Latin American and Jesuit to become the leader of the Catholic Church.

    Since the white smoke announced the 266th leader of the Catholic Church  in 2013, Pope Francis - given name Jorge Mario Bergoglio  - has enjoyed high popularity ratings worldwide, driven by his humble style, common touch and emphasis on compassion and social justice, writes Brian Hutton.

    The one-time nightclub bouncer in his native Buenos Aires  is widely seen as a reformer and moderniser within the church. But this approach grates with traditionalists, while liberals object to his orthodoxy on other matters including sex. He is the first South American and Jesuit to become pope. He was born on December 17th, 1936, making him 81 years of age.

    At the time of his election he drew broad support from both conservatives and reformers as he was seen on orthodox on sexual matters but liberal on social ones.

    Pope Francis lives in the small suite of a Vatican guesthouse rather than the roomy penthouse apartment used by popes over the past century. He does not use the palatial papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

    The Pope has 17.8 million followers on Twitter

  • 17:19
    Worth noting that the many Presentation Sisters who reguarly volunteer at the Capuchin day centre did not get the chance to meet the Pope as he left the Bow Street hall. They were gathered in the yard outside as he spoke to clients and other volunteers from the centre.  
  • 17:04
  • 16:55

    “To all the brothers and sisters, I thank you for the love and faithfulness that you have the Capuchin fathers. I thank you for coming here with trust. I ask you one thing, to know what it means to have trust. They help you without taking away your dignity. It’s the face of Jesus Christ."

    The Pope has now concluded his remarks at the Capuchin centre.  

  • 16:55

    The Pope thanks Brother Kevin for his work at the centre. He said: “Something else you said that touched my heard, that you don’t ask for anything here, it’s Jesus who comes. You accept life as it comes and if you have need to you forgive.

    “It makes me think of so many priests who live asking about life of others and in confession a little bit too inquisitive wanting to know and know. Your witness, the sign to priests, to listen, to be close, to forgive and don’t ask too much. To be simple, ordinary.”

  • 16:47

    Brother Kevin speaking at the Capuchin centre: "Our primary concern is for the dignity and respect of each person attending our centre. We do not ask any questions of those who frequent this place as we feel it is difficult enough for them to come and to bring their children here to be fed and nourished. Our main concern is that no one should go hungry."

  • 16:42

    The Pope is now meeting with volunteers and clients at the Capuchin centre as well as the brothers who help run the project.  

    The Capuchin centre provides about 800-900 meals every day, with a breakfast sitting and lunch sitting.  


  • 16:36
    The Pope has arrived in the Capuchin day centre where he was welcomed by Brother Kevin.  
  • 16:36

    Members of the crowd call on the Pope to "free Julian Assange"

  • 16:33

    Pope’s speech an “incredible missed opportunity”

    The Pope’s first speech on his visit to Ireland was “an incredible missed opportunity” to accept that the Vatican directed a cover-up of crimes, clerical abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman has said.

    Speaking at Dublin Castle where he was invited to be in the audience for the pope’s speech, Mr O’Gorman told reporters that the speech was “a huge shame” and “rather disgraceful” in its failure to address the Church’s shortcomings on the issue of clerical sex abuse and its cover-up.

    “We have the head of state of the Vatican City state here speaking in a public context. He could have talked to the people of Ireland beyond just those who might identify as faithful Catholics,” he said.

    “He could have talked to us all in a way that was blunt, clear and frank, that was human and that was accessible. He refused clearly to do so and that’s a huge shame. I think frankly it is rather disgraceful.”

    Mr O’Gorman said that he had been taught as a boy by his parents and by his Church at the time that if he wanted to apologise for actions, the first thing he had to do was to take responsibility for them.

    “It is staggering to me that in 2018 we are still asking a pope to take responsibility not for his own actions necessarily but for the actions of the institution that he heads,” he said.

    “It is mind boggling to me that to ask a pope to tell the damn truth is a radical thing to suggest.”

    All that Francis needed to say was that the Vatican had “directed, implemented and instituted” a cover-up clerical abuse including the rape of children, women and vulnerable adult and this was “underpinned” by its laws and done to protect the Church’s institutions, authority, power and money, he said.

    Asked whether he had hoped the pope to announce new responses to tackle clerical sex abuse, Mr O’Gorman said the Church needed to take responsibility for the crimes and their cover-up first.

    “If they don’t own and take responsibility of those crimes, the cover-up of those crimes by clergy, the protection of the institution rather than children and vulnerable adults - if they don’t do that, how can there be any integrity behind whatever actions they would announce?”

    Simon Carswell reporting from Dublin Castle

  • 16:30

    Micheal Martin responds to Pope’s speech

    Clerical sex abuse was addressed “frankly” by the Taoiseach and Pope in their speeches but there had to be “follow-through” to identify those who covered it up, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has said.

    Asked about the remarks by the pope’s recognition of the “repugnant crimes” of abuse, Mr Martin told reporters he would liked to have heard more about the measures the Vatican intended to take.

    “We would have appreciated a greater focus on the actions that should follow,” said Mr Martin outside Dublin Castle after hearing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Pope Francis speak in their first public remarks of the pontiff’s visit to Ireland, the first by a pope since 1979.

    “He was quite clear in his condemnation of clerical abuse and the failings of the church in terms of abuse of children by church members but I do think that there needs to be follow-through in terms of who was responsible for the various cover-ups, for the policies of shifting the abusers to different parishes and different locations where the abuse continued. That has to be completely open and frank,” said Mr Martin.

    The Fianna Fáil leader said there had been much progress made by State and Church in the modern era but there were “a lot of people still suffering.”  

    He referred to people abused in primary schools who have no access to redress schemes.

    Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney thought the speeches were “powerful” and “a very good start to what will be, I think, an impactful weekend.”

    “The Taoiseach spoke very very well summing up the challenges both for the State and the Church in Ireland and I think the Pope responded appropriately,” he said.

    Mr Coveney said he was very proud to introduce his family to the pope as he stepped off the plane at Dublin Airport and felt it was “appropriate” that he be met by a family when he was in Ireland to attend the World Meeting of Families, the once-every-three-year conference sponsored by the Vatican.

    “Getting flowers from a seven-year-old girl when you land on a runway in Ireland is a very nice way to start what is going to be a hugely busy and energy-sapping visit to Ireland so I hope he felt very welcome when he stepped onto the runway,” he said.

    Simon Carswell reporting from Dublin Castle

  • 16:26
  • 16:22
    The route of the Popemobile will take the Pontiff down O'Connell Street, across the river, past College Green and down Dame Street before crossing back over the river and travelling to the Capuchin centre.  
  • 16:20

    The Pope has concluded his remarks in the Pro Cathedral.

    Roger and Aoife O'Connor and baby Francesca, named after the Pope, will meet the Pope on the way out of the church. The Pope will also meet 6 week old baby Claudia.  

  • 16:19
    The Pope's message from the Pro Cathedral - the world needs a revolution of love that should start with your families.  
  • 16:18
    As the Pope blesses the newlyweds in the Pro Cathedral, just over the river Liffey on Exchange Street Councillor Mannix Flynn is sending this message:  
  • 16:15
  • 16:13
  • 16:12
    The Pope has said he will meet with families facing "real hardship and challenges" in the Capuchin centre  
  • 16:06
    Responding to a question from newlyweds Steven and Jordan on how to educate their children about the Catholic faith, the Pope says: "I know the church in Ireland carefully prepares catechism programmes for teaching the faith, this is essential. Yet, the first and most important place for passing on the faith is in the home. You learn it at home. Through the quiet daily example of parents who love our lord and trust in his word. There, in what we may call the domestic church, children learn the meaning of fidelity and sacrifice."
  • 16:02
    Pope Francis: “Love is a rock, it’s a refuge in times of trial. But more importantly it’s a source of constant growth. Take a strong bet, bet on the whole life, take risks. Because marriage is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking for the whole of your life.”
  • 16:00

    Pope continues his speech to the couples in the Pro Cathedral

    "I thank the young couples who have asked me several forthright questions. Not easy to answer these questions. They ask how they can help others to see that marriage is not simply an institution but a vocation. It goes on for your whole life, it’s a life-long decision to cherish, assist and protect one another. We have to acknowledge that nowadays that we are not used to anything that lasts our whole lives. Our culture is very provisional, very temporary."

  • 15:54
    The Pope tells couples to "fight as much as you want, bicker but in the evening make peace"
  • 15:48

    Pope Francis is now speaking to the congregation:

    "Getting married and sharing your lives is a beautiful thing. There’s a Spanish saying that says if you share the pain it’s half the pain. The joy shared is a joy and a half. And this is the way marriage works.  

    "I’m especially happy to be with all of you engaged couples, married couples at different stages of the journey of sacramental love."

  • 15:46
    The Pope has blessed a couple married 50 years in the Pro Cathedral before hearing from two young couples who recently became engaged and were married.  
  • 15:37
    The Pope was presented with a bouquet of flowers in the Pro Cathedral by Ryan and Caroline Feeney from Belfast who were recently married.  
  • 15:33
    Pope Francis has arrived at the Pro Cathedral in his popemobile where he will meet couples who are recently married or who are about to get married.  
  • 15:13
  • 15:07

    During his public speech in Dublin Castle, Pope Francis said, in an off-script comment, that the words said to him earlier by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone “still echo in my heart.” He thanked her for her words.


  • 15:06

    A spokesman for the Taoiseach has revealed what was spoken about during Leo Varadkar’s private meeting with the pontiff.

    The Taoiseach talked about the many Irish people who felt excluded  from the Catholic Church  because of “legacy issues”  such as  clerical sex abuse and the Church’s handling of it.

    “The  Taoiseach said to the Pope that there are huge numbers of people here who have faith in their heart but who feel excluded and alienated from the Church because of what happened,” the spokesman said.

    The Taoiseach said these people want to believe again, and want to be called back to the Church, according to the spokesman.

  • 14:58

    The running order of the remainder of the Pope’s activities for today:

    15.30: Visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

    Around 16.25: Pope Mobile trip through city.

    1830: Croke Park. Festival of Families event.

  • 14:56
  • 14:55
    Colm O'Gorman: "It is staggering to me that in 2018 we’re still asking a Pope to take responsibility, not for his own actions necessarily, but for the actions of the institution that he heads."  
  • 14:49

    The popemobile is due to make its tour through the city in just over an hour  

  • 14:43
    These newlywed couples have been waiting quite a while already...
  • 14:19

    Who is Pope Francis: Radical reformer or ineffectual figurehead?

    At the end of the 11 o’clock Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral last Sunday morning Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reminded the congregation that Pope Francis would be visiting there on Saturday, August 25th at 3.30pm, writes Patsy McGarry.

    As the archbishop said, it will be “the first time a pope has ever visited this cathedral church”.

    Pope Francis, he said, was “very anxious to come here to pray with those who are engaged or got recently married or received the sacrament of marriage, and to give some words of encouragement”. He also hoped the pope’s visit “will be a source of joy for us all, even those who have been hurt and wounded by the Church”.

    Among those “hurt and wounded” would be the then 13-year-old boy who was sexually abused by a priest at the parochial house of the Pro-Cathedral during the visit of Pope John Paul  II to Ireland in 1979. It happened after the priest had offered to show the boy the Pro-Cathedral crypts. That boy was a man of 47 when the priest, now laicised, pleaded guilty and was jailed five years ago, in 2013.

    During that same papal visit 39 years ago, an 11-year-old boy was raped by a Rosminian brother at the Ferrybank industrial school near Clonmel, Co Tipperary. The boy was kept back from attending with his peers at the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul in Limerick.

    It was punishment for his many attempts at escape.

  • 14:17
  • 14:16
  • 13:54
    Dublin city's looking pretty quiet
  • 13:53

    Migrant views  

    The Irish Times spoke to some members of the country’s immigrant communities ahead of the Pope’s visit this week. Lorna and Marlou Patindol, who moved to Ireland from the Philippines in the early 2000s, took the week off work to volunteer at the World Meeting of Families. They hope the Pope’s visit will help draw Irish people back into the church.

     “There were a lot of things happening in Ireland which went against our beliefs – divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion,” says Lorna. “These are things that go totally against the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

    Kelli Monteiro, who moved to Dublin from Sao Paulo in 2009, feels deeply uncomfortable about the amount of money being spent on the pontiff’s visit (an estimated €32 million).

    “Everything has to stop for him but at the same time there’s six kids sleeping in a Garda station. That money could be better spent. It wouldn’t solve the homelessness crisis but it would help.”

    “The Catholic Church is such a big part of this country. Since I moved here everyone talks about the abuse and the laundries. He can’t just ignore these problems.”

    Alicja Myszkowska, who moved to Ireland from Poland  in 2004, is an active member of St Audoen’s Church in Dublin, which is home to the Polish chaplaincy. Like the Patindols, she hopes the pope’s visit will renew Irish people’s faith.

    “It’s an important time for him to visit, especially when the family unit is being destroyed and people are living in partnership without getting married,” she says. “I have noticed that the parish in this country is forgetting to teach people about the laws of God. I can see the churches are becoming empty but hopefully people will find a way back.

    Michal Szpak, who is also from Poland, says the pope’s visit is “inappropriate” and “bad timing”.

    “For the head of the organisation that actively participated in the cover-up of so many scandals to come here just beggars belief,” he says. “I think his visit is totally inappropriate and I feel every Catholic should feel the same. The most appropriate reaction would be anger and disappointment.”



  • 13:37
  • 13:36
  • 13:31

    National Women's Council rejects invitation to Dublin Castle  

    The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) did not attend the event in Dublin Castle today, saying the Church was “a central powerful force against the advancement of women’s rights and equality, since the foundation of the Irish state” and that the Pope embodies its “misogynistic values, ethos and policies”.

    “It  (the church) continues  to promulgate a misogynistic, patriarchal and discriminatory ethos, and to use its influence throughout the world to block progression for women,” said Orla O’Connor, director of the NWCI in a letter to the Taoiseach. “Specifically, the Catholic Church seeks to deny women’s  reproductive health  and promote a model of family formation that  relegates  lone parent and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families to second class  status.”

    “Of particular relevance for NWCI is  the treatment of our most vulnerable citizens in Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes,  industrial schools and reformatory schools,  which represents a deep stain on our past and has left deep trauma and scars for many women and families throughout Ireland.

    "The abuse was facilitated and continues to be covered up by the Catholic Church at the highest level, through its failure to be transparent, provide accountability and implement the necessary structural change. To this day, the Church refuses to hand over records to women who were incarcerated in Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes.”

    ‪”We know that these issues are not just historic. In recent weeks, we have witnessed the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion healthcare in Argentina, news of yet another cover up of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania, and of course, the ongoing vista of religious orders not honouring financial commitments to survivors.

    “The Pope, as head of the Catholic Church and Vatican State, embodies these misogynistic values, ethos and policies. In the National Women’s Council of Ireland, we stand in solidarity with survivors. We stand for truth.”

  • 13:26

    President Michael D Higgins said in a statement that during his meeting with the Pope  that they continued their previous discussions on a wide range of issues of mutual concern, emphasising the need for concerted international action to address the challenges of climate change, inequality, poverty, violent conflict and migration.

    “The president and His Holiness spoke of their shared conviction that social cohesion, solidarity and human rights must be at the heart of political and personal responses to the current challenges facing global communities.

    "The present and future generations affected by such challenges deserve an engaged response to their needs and to be given a basis for their hopes for a sustainable planet with an interdependent people. The president said that he shared the concern of His Holiness at the lethargy of the global response which His Holiness Pope Francis has called ‘the globalisation of indifference’.

    “President Higgins referred to the important contribution made to the debate on the importance of connecting ecology, economics and ethics that was outlined by His Holiness in his ground-breaking encyclical, Laudato Si,” the statement said.

    It added that President Higgins also spoke to the pope about the issues of homelessness, health, education and nutrition. “They both emphasised the importance of measures to prevent and redress all forms of abuse of privilege or power.”

    The president also spoke to Pope Francis “of how the achievement of an equality of rights defined a Republic, and of how acts of exclusion, including those based on gender and sexual orientation, had caused, and were still causing, great suffering.

    “President Higgins raised with His Holiness the immense suffering and hurt caused by child sex abuse perpetrated by some within the Catholic Church. He spoke of the anger which had been conveyed to him at what was perceived to be the impunity enjoyed by those who had the responsibility of bringing such abuses for action by the appropriate authorities and have not done so.

    “The president welcomed the honest and forthright language that His Holiness used when addressing the issue in his recent Letter to the People of God. He conveyed to Pope Francis the widely held view that all would benefit from a set of actions that gave the necessary assurances to all citizens past, present and future, of all faiths and none.”


  • 13:24

    Conor Pope, who was in the Áras earlier today during the Pope’s visit, has reported that a Syrian asylum seeker family was among those in attendance when the pontiff planed an Irish oak tree.

    The tree was planted near the spot where the last Papal visitor to Ireland Pope John Paul II planted a tree of his own almost 40 years ago.  

    Pope Francis was handed a ceremonial shovel by head gardener Robert Norris ahead of a ceremony observed by the Hassoun family, asylum seekers from Syria, as well as staff working in the Áras.

    The Hassoun family members included Saif Eddin Hassoun, Sana Edris, Mahmoud Al A’Araj, Hasba Hassoun, Lana Al A’Araj (6), Aala Al A’Araj (4) and Tala Al A’Araj (1).

    After planting the tree the pope spent a minute greeting each member of the family individually before making his way back into the Áras.


  • 13:19

    Translation error, it turns out the Pope said "repugnant crimes" rather than "repellent crimes" in his speech at Dublin Castle.  

    “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities - bishops, religious superiors, priests and others - adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share these sentiments.”

  • 13:15
  • 13:13
  • 13:12

    Recap of Pope Francis’ speech at Dublin Castle

    In his first speech on his visit to Ireland, Pope Francis recognised how the Church’s failure to address the “repellent crimes” of clerical sexual abuse “remains a source of pain and shame” for Irish Catholics.

    Addressing the scandal that has damaged the Church’s standing since the last visit of a pope almost four decades ago, the pontiff said he was “very conscious” of the circumstances of “our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”

    He specifically made reference to “women who in the past have endured particularly difficult situations” - a veiled reference to the treatment of Irish women in the Magdalene Laundries   and other Church-run institutions.

    “With regard to the most vulnerable, I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” said the Pope speaking in Italian.

    “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities - bishops, religious superiors, priests and others - adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share these sentiments.”

    Francis referred to the past remarks of Pope Benedict in a letter to Irish Catholics saying that he “spared no words in recognising both the gravity of the situation” and in demanding that “truly evangelical, just and effective” measures be taken in response “to this betrayal of trust.”

    “His frank and decisive intervention continues to serve as an incentive for the efforts of the Church’s leadership both to remedy past mistakes and to adopt stringent norms meant to ensure that they do not happen again,” said Pope Francis.

    “It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast light on the failings of many, will serve to emphasise the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole,” he said.

    “In this regard, all of us are aware of how urgent it is to provide our young people with wise guidance and sound values in their journey to maturity.”





  • 13:08

     Recap of Leo Varadkar’s speech in Dublin Castle

    The time has come to build a "new" and  "more mature" relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish State - “a new covenant for the 21st century” - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Pope Francis.

    Mr Varadkar said he hoped the pontiff’s visit - the first by a pope to Ireland in 39 years - “marks the opening of a new chapter in the relationship between Ireland and the Catholic Church.”

    “Building on our intertwined history, and learning from our shared mistakes and responsibilities, it can be one in which religion is no longer at the centre of our society, but one in which it continues to have an important place,” he said to several hundred dignitaries from Irish political, civic and religious life in St Patrick’s Hall at Dublin Castle.

    Referring to the “dark aspects” of the Catholic Church’s history, he described the Church-run institutions where Irish people were abused and mistreated - the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools - and through illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse as “stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church.”

    These were “people kept in dark corners, behind closed doors, cries of help that went unheard,” Mr Varadkar said, speaking on a stage next to the Pope.”

    “Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors.  Holy Father, I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and also around the world.”

    The Taoiseach said that we have all listened to the “heart-breaking stories” of clerical sex abuse revealed in Pennsylvania, as exposed in a grand jury report earlier this month. He described the abuse as “unspeakable crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church, and then obscured to protect the institution. It is a story that was all too tragically familiar to people in Ireland.

    Addressing the Church’s much-criticised handling of clerical sex abuse, the Taoiseach said that there “can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate the abuse.”

    “We must now ensure that from words flow actions,” Mr Varadkar told the pontiff. “Above all, Holy Father, we ask to you to listen to the victims and to the survivors,” and that he do so with the “humility and compassion” that he embodies as pontiff.

    He acknowledged the mistakes of the Church and State in the past, saying: “At times in the past we have failed.”

  • 13:04
    The Pope is now leaving the State apartments and will head to his next appointment at St Mary's Pro Cathedral and Sean McDermott street. He is scheduled to visit the Capuchin Fathers day centre for homeless families at 4.30pm where he will meet 80 people who are homeless.  
  • 13:02
    "Today, as in the past, the men and women who live in this country strive to enrich the life of the nation with the wisdom borne of their faith. Even in Ireland’s darkest hours they found in that faith a source of courage needed to forge a future of freedom and dignity, justice and solidarity. The Christian message has been an integral part of that experience... it is my prayer that Ireland will not be forgetful of the powerful strains of the Christian message."
  • 12:59
    The Pope has said that in his open letter last week, he repeated "a greater commitment to eliminate this wound in the church... each child is a precious gift from god to be cherished and guided to spiritual maturity. The church in Ireland past and present has played a role in the welfare of children that cannot be obscured. It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals will serve to emphasise the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults."
  • 12:56
    Pope Francis: "I am very conscious of the circumstances of the our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, I think of those women who have in the past endured difficult situations. I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland of the abuse of young people by the members of the church..."
  • 12:53
    Speaking of the Northern Irish conflict, the Pope said: "We give thanks for the two decades of peace that have followed this historic agreement with the hope that the peace process will overcome every remaining obstacle and give birth to a future of mutual trust."
  • 12:52
    The Pope has spoken of the "intractable conflicts and violence, contempt for human dignity and human rights and the growing divide between rich and poor. We need to recover in every instance of political and social life the sense of being a true family of peoples."
  • 12:50
    Pope Francis is now speaking at Dublin Castle
  • 12:47

    Leo Varadkar: "The Ireland of the 21st century is a very different place to the one we had in the past. It is increasingly diverse. One in 6 of us were not born here and more and more adhere to other faiths or subscribe to no organised religion at all.  

    "We voted in our parliament and referendum to modernise our laws... that women should make their own decisions and that families come in many different forms....

    "I believe the time has come to build a new, more mature relationship between church and state."


  • 12:46

    "... there is much to be done for justice and truth... we ask that you use your office and influence to make sure this happens around the world."

  • 12:45
    "At times of the past we have failed and there are dark aspects in the history of the Catholic church... we remember the failures of church and state and wider society and how they created a bitter and broken heritage for so many leaving a legacy of pain.

    "...far too often there was judgement, severity and cruelty, particularly to women and children and those on the margins... people kept in dark corners, behind closed doors, cries for help that went unheard."

  • 12:41
    Leo Varadkar:  

    "I believe the Catholic Church has always helped us to understand that we are citizens of a wider world and part of a global, universal family. Our brave missionary priests and nuns provided education to many around the world. Today our UN peacekeepers and NGO workers round the world follow in that proud tradition.

    People of profound Christian faith provided education too our children when our government did not. They also founded our oldest hospital and provided welfare to so many people.

  • 12:37
    Mr Varadkar says he hopes the Pope can visit Northern Ireland on his next visit.  
  • 12:37
    Leo Vardkar: "We all share here in Ireland a common home. It’s our duty to nurture this planet and look after its people. We thank you for your care of the earth and for emphasising the need to tackle climate change. We thank you for your empathy for the poor and migrants and refugees."
  • 12:34

    The Taoiseach and Pope Francis have entered  St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle to applause from the 300 or so guests in the room. The Taoiseach will speak first followed by the Pope.  

  • 12:32
  • 12:31

    In its long read published this week and entitled ‘Pope to Visit Ireland, Where Scars of Sex Abuse Are ‘Worse Than the IRA’’, the New York Times reported that the “painful spectre of abuses hangs over his trip” as well as “the church’s long history of protecting paedophile priests”.

    “Donegal is riddled with landmarks of abuse, each telling its own tragedy. In a cemetery in Gortahork, a small village near the coast, eight men are buried, all victims of clerical abuse who killed themselves. A few miles away, a 15-year-old abuse victim hanged himself in a shed.”

  • 12:26

    Pope Francis is currently meeting Leo Varadkar in private at Dublin Castle ahead of the pontiff’s speech in front of large audience. The Taoiseach has said he intends to raise issues around LGBT rights and the Church’s legacy of abuse in this country with the Pope. The meeting is expected to last 8-10 minutes.

  • 12:24
    Last night in Dublin and ahead of Sunday's #stand4truth protest in Dublin
  • 12:18
    Our favourite blue Skoda has pulled up outside Dublin Castle and the Pope is walking the red carpet to the main portico where he is greeted by Leo Varadkar.  
  • 12:16

    A reminder that last week the Pope was criticised by sex abuse survivors who criticised the pontiff's open letter, which apologised to victims and said "no effort will be spared to prevent abuse and its cover up” in the future, for  failing to explain how members of the church will be held accountable for their crimes.

    In the Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God”, published unexpectedly on Monday, the pontiff said the Catholic Church had shown “no care for the little ones” and that “no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient”.

    “The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way,” he said in the letter, which came days after fresh revelations of clerical abuse cover-ups in the US.

    The pope said the Catholic Church had delayed in applying necessary actions and sanctions for the protection of children and must “guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future”, writes Patsy McGarry.

    Responding to the letter, the One in Four group, which assists abused people, said it was “both disappointed and frustrated” by what the pope had said.

    Maeve Lewis the group’s executive director, said it “rehashes the apologies” without identifying “one single concrete step that the Vatican  intends to take to hold clerical sex offenders and those who protect them accountable for their crimes”. She said survivors “are tired of meaningless apologies and expressions of solidarity that do not involve a clear call to action”.

  • 12:11

    Where next on the Pope's tour of Dublin?

    Pope Francis and his entourage will now head to Dublin Castle where he will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as well as church leaders, the Council of State, Government MEPs, Northern Ireland political party leaders and some members of the judiciary. He will also make the first of his three planned speeches for the two-day trip to Ireland.  

  • 12:06
    The Pope is now stepping back into the Skoda which will bring him to Dublin Castle to meet the Taoiseach.  
  • 11:58
  • 11:55
  • 11:54

    Beware the self-centred women, would-be husbands told  

    Also at the RDS event was a stall selling books entitled  The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband  and  The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife.  In chapter 14 of the first book, the “N” chapter, warns men that the “very last person you want to select as a wife is a narcissistic woman”, reports Simon Carswell.  

    “The self-centred, self-absorbed and self-admiring woman is searching for a husband to orbit her over-sized ego, and you don’t want to be that man,” the book says.

  • 11:51

    We’ve had a stream of reporters covering events at the World Meeting of Families in the RDS this week. Yesterday, one session heard that women who were the victims of domestic abuse were told by their clergy the abuse was part of their sacrifice in this life and they would get their reward in heaven. Read the full article here.

  • 11:45
  • 11:43
  • 11:41
    Speaking in Italian to Irish and world journalists travelling with him on the Alitalia flight from Rome, Pope Francis said he was very happy to visit Ireland again but for the first time as Pope.
'For me it is the second meeting of families. I was in attendance at the Philadelphia meeting,' he said.
'I like to be with families.'
'Secondly, and it touches my heart, I am returning to Ireland for the first time in almost 28 years,' he added.
'I stayed for almost three months in Ireland when I was studying English (in 1980).'
'For me, it was a very good memory.'
    Speaking in Italian to Irish and world journalists travelling with him on the Alitalia flight from Rome, Pope Francis said he was very happy to visit Ireland again but for the first time as Pope. "For me it is the second meeting of families. I was in attendance at the Philadelphia meeting," he said. "I like to be with families." "Secondly, and it touches my heart, I am returning to Ireland for the first time in almost 28 years," he added. "I stayed for almost three months in Ireland when I was studying English (in 1980)." "For me, it was a very good memory."
  • 11:37

    The Irish Times spoke to market stall owners on Dame Street, O’Connell Bridge and Henry Street this week who say people had little interest in purchasing Pope memorabilia ahead of this weekend’s visit.  

    Hats, T-shirts, flags, dishes, scarves, badges, plaques, bags and even Pope Francis branded sweets and lollipops can be purchased from as little as €3 but stall owners say the price is not the issue.

    “We haven’t sold very much at all, we’re overrun with stuff as we were expecting thousands of visitors, but no-one is buying anything.

    “I was here for the last pope’s visit in 1979, we were selling six or seven flags at a time, now I’m barely selling one or two.

    “Ireland isn’t the same place it was back then, people are not as interested in the pope and the church anymore, and who can blame them?

    “In Dublin especially, people are fed up with the hypocrisy and the cover-up of abuse.

    “I see the homeless people here every day, the church does nothing for them, day in and day out, and now they want them moved off the street for the Pope’s arrival, it’s hypocritical.”



  • 11:32

    The Pope's visit (and the Church's legacy) in numbers  

    • 25,000: The quantity of sliced pans that, it’s estimated, will be consumed by the peckish faithful in the Phoenix Park.
    • 31,250: the total litres of milk to be drunk in their flasks of tea.
    • 2,500: the number of portaloos.
    • 500,000: the estimated crowds expected to congregate in the park,
    • Following last week's news from the US...
    • 300: the number of priests who abused children over 70 years in six parishes in the US state of Pennsylvania.
    • 900: the number of pages in a report published last week following a two-year grand jury investigation detailing the abuse of those priests.
    • 1,000: the number of identifiable victims.
    • 18 months: the age of the youngest victim.


  • 11:29
  • 11:24
    The Pope's blue skoda has pulled up outside  Áras an Uachtaráin and the pontiff has met with Michael D and Sabina
  • 11:21
  • 11:19

    If you're attending the Mass in Phoenix Park tomorrow...

    • It will take 75 mins to walk from the transport hub to the gate
    • The queue at the gate is expected to take one hour
    • The walk from the gate to your corral is also due to take one hour
    • The Mass will last 105 mins
    • The walk back to the main gate will take another 60 minutes
    • The queue at the gate, once again, will take one hour
    • The walk back to the tansport hub will take another 75 mins
    • The queue at the transport hub will take at least an hour  
  • 11:13
  • 11:11

    Our religious affaris correspondent Patsy McGarry was on the Pope's Alitalia flight from Rome to Dublin this morning. Here's some video snippets from the journey over.

  • 11:05
    Not a great start to the day Sky.  
  • 11:02
  • 10:59
    Sums it up nicely  
  • 10:57

    Interested in hearing from some people who will be making the pilgrimage to Phoenix Park this weekend? Conor Pope spoke to four people who explained why they want to take part in Sunday’s Mass.

    They include Orla McAlinden who describes herself as “a feminist, pro-marriage-equality, pro-repeal, pro-non-denominational-education, pro-separation-of/church-and-State, scientifically educated, Mass-going Catholic”. And she says the “cognitive dissonance is killing me”.

    It “would be so much easier to jack it in, but I don’t. I’m going to the papal Mass with my four children, but not my husband, and I’m also singing in the stadium choir on Saturday in Croke Park”.

    She says it is “really difficult to be a woman in the Catholic Church”, and adds that sometimes she feels “so let down and so betrayed and so secondary. I can’t understand sometimes why I get such solace and such peace and joy from it.

    “I’m going to see the pope because I don’t feel that the abuses and the horrors perpetrated by the institutional church are entitled to deprive me of that solace. They have destroyed so many other things, why should they be allowed to destroy my faith too? The institutional abuse of men have failed so many and taken so much from so many, why should I allow them to take the joy it has brought me away, I’m just not prepared to let them do it.”

  • 10:51
    FYI, there was no kiss for the tarmac at Dublin Airport  
  • 10:49
    Pope Francis has disembarked his plane and has left Dublin Airport in an entourage headed for Aras an Uachtaráin.  
  • 10:46

    Traffic restrictions

    If you're planning to see Pope Francis in Dublin, either in Croke Park, Phoenix Park or as he parades through the city centre this link has everything you need to know on traffic restrictions.

    A reminder that 52 roads will be closed around Dublin's city centre between 6am and 7pm today and 100,000 people are expected to line the streets to watch the popemobile pass.  

    However, if you're NOT interested in the Pope and just want to get around the city with as little stress as possible you need to read this. Some advice though, if you want to avoid papal festivites, stay out of Dublin city centre this weekend.  

  • 10:38

    Once again, a reminder of the day's events as the Pope steps off his plane in Dublin airport.

    1000: LGBT choir plan to sing on the Ha’Penny Bridge.

    1030: Clerical sex abuse victims holding protest close to Dublin Castle.

    1030: Pope arrives at Dublin International Airport.

    1115: Meeting at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park.

    1210: Pope meets with the authorities, civil society and Diplomatic Corps at Dublin Castle before making a speech.

    1530: Visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

    Circa 1615: Pope Mobile trip through city.

    1830: Croke Park. Festival of Families event.

  • 10:34
    Important reminder if you're around the city today...
  • 10:33
  • 10:27
    Touch down, the Alitalia flight carrying Pope Francis has landed in Dublin airport. And so it begins...
  • 10:25
    It looks like the Pope is moments away from landing in Dublin airport. He's just flown over Portmarnock according to our flight tracker.    
  • 10:03
  • 09:43
  • 09:32
    The pope's plane is just flying over London now, so we can expect to see him touching down in Dublin just after 10am.
  • 09:23


    1000: LGBT choir plan to sing on the Ha’Penny Bridge.

    1030: Clerical sex abuse victims holding protest close to Dublin Castle.

    1030: Pope arrives at Dublin International Airport.

    1115: Meeting at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park.

    1210: Pope meets with the authorities, civil society and Diplomatic Corps at Dublin Castle before making a speech.

    1530: Visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

    Circa 1615: Pope Mobile trip through city.

    1830: Croke Park. Festival of Families event.

  • 09:11

  • 08:55
  • 08:32
  • 08:29

    Ahead of the pope's arrival The Irish Times invited people to write a letter to the pontiff.

    Abuse survivor Colm O'Gorman wrote: "I won’t lie. It has been a tough few months. I hadn’t imagined that your visit to Ireland would cause me any upset, but to my surprise it has."

    Fintan O'Toole wrote that the Catholic Church in Ireland is "irreparable". "It destroyed itself with patriarchal authoritarianism, the cynical enabling of child abusers and the worldliness that came from entangling itself in State power. That Irish church isn’t coming back."

    You can read these letters and more from Katie Ascough, Susan McKay and Fr Peter McVerry here.  

  • 08:21

    Some 600,000 people are expected to turn out to see the pope in both Dublin and Knock over the weekend.  

    That is significantly less than in 1979, when over a million people came to see Pope John Paul II in Phoenix Park alone.  It is believed to have been the largest gathering of Irish people in history.  

    Ireland today is a completely changed place and the Catholic church has been badly damaged by its sex abuse cover-ups against the backdrop of a general social shift towards more liberal values.

    Pope Francis will meet a number of abuse victims in a private meeting amid expectation he will use his public utterances elsewhere to confront the emotive issue.

    Earlier this week, the pope wrote a 2,000-word letter to Catholics in which he condemned the crime of sexual abuse by priests and subsequent cover-ups.  

    However,  Vatican spokesman  Greg Burke  said confronting abuse within the  Catholic Church  is not the “major subject” of the pope's trip to the Republic.

  • 08:11
  • 08:07

    Today's weather is forecast to be mainly dry, with sunny spells and temperature of 18 degrees at most.  

    Tomorrow is a different story, though.  Sunday morning will be breezy and wet, with widespread rain, persistent and locally heavy.

    Drier conditions will develop in the afternoon, with bright spells and just a few isolated showers. Southeasterly winds will veer westerly as the rain clears, but they will remain fresh and blustery.

    Very mild and humid for a time, with maximum temperatures of 18 or 19 Celsius, but it will gradually turn cooler and fresher.

  • 08:03
  • 07:58
    There he is now. Flying it.  
    There he is now. Flying it.  
  • 07:53
    Pope Francis has left Rome on board flight AZ4000 and is currently flying along the west coast of Italy - you can track his route on Flight Radar 24 here.
  • 07:31
  • 07:20

    Hello and welcome to our liveblog of the Papal visit.
    Pope Francis is due to land at Dublin airport at 10.30am today, but the city has been in lockdown since 6am.
    There will be 52 roads closed around Dublin’s city centre between 6am and 7pm on Saturday, so make sure you plan your route carefully if you are leaving the house.
    Gardaí said the M50, M1 and Dublin Tunnel will be fully open on Saturday, with no restrictions or closures planned.
    Dublin Bus will operate a normal Saturday service however there will be significant diversions in place.
    Irish Rail will be operating as normal but there will be some disuptions on both the Red and Green Luas lines between 11am and 5pm.
    You can get a full list of road closures and times here.
    The pope's firsts top will be at Áras an Úachtaráin, then on to Dublin Castle. He will also visit St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and the Capuchin Fathers day centre for homeless families on Arran Quay.
    His first major event of the trip will take place at Croke Park this evening where he will give an address to the Festival of Families.
    This starts at 6.30pm and will run until 8.30pm with 70,000 people expected to attend.