Pope Francis to arrive in Ireland

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Dublin, Aug 25 (IANS) Pope Francis will arrive on Saturday in Ireland on the first papal visit to the majority Roman Catholic nation in almost 40 years. He will be greeted by fervent crowds and angry protests.

His two-day visit comes as the Church is again embroiled in scandal over clerical abuse, fueled by the release this month of a damning Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups, reports CNN.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to Dublin’s Croke Park stadium on Saturday when Francis will deliver an address as part of the Festival of Families, a concert-type event.

Organisers have said that hundreds of thousands more will attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope at the city’s Phoenix Park on Sunday. All 500,000 tickets for the free event have been booked.

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However, the papal visit will also be marked by unprecedented protests over the Catholic Church’s handling of the clerical abuse scandal.

A protest dubbed “Stand for Truth”, will take place at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin’s Parnell Square at the same time as the Mass is celebrated.

Organisers of the “Say Nope to the Pope” protest said on Facebook they hoped to show solidarity to abuse victims.

The Vatican confirmed that the Pope would meet privately with victims of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland. It did not say where or when that meeting will take place, CNN said.

The pontiff will also pray at St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral here on Saturday, where a candle has burned for years in remembrance of the country’s victims of sexual abuse.

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The last papal visit to Ireland was by Pope John Paul II in September 1979.

–IANS

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