Belfast priest urges Pope Francis to cancel Irish visit

Belfast priest urges Pope Francis to cancel Irish visit

A BELFAST priest has called on Pope Francis to cancel his planned trip to Ireland in light of the ongoing issues surrounding clerical sex abuse.

The Irish Times reports that Father Patrick McCafferty urged the Pope not to come to Ireland during a sermon to his west Belfast congregation.

Father McCafferty is, himself, a victim of clerical sex abuse at the hands of former priest James Donaghy during his time as a seminarian in Wexford and later in Northern Ireland.

Donaghy was eventually jailed in 2012 for his abuse of McCafferty and two altar boys.

However, Father McCafferty expressed concern that some of the men set to "appear alongside" the Pope who have "very serious questions to answer" about their prior knowledge of clerical sex abuse.

"I ask the Pope not to come on account of the betrayal, the destruction of trust and entire loss of credibility," he told the congregation.

Despite the calls to cancel the Pope's visit, Father McCafferty was keen to stress his support for the pontiff is unwavering.

"It is not about him, it is about the unresolved agony, the anguish that is ongoing and is unaddressed, and cries about to be addressed," he told The Irish Times earlier this week.

A group representing clerical child abuse survivors has already written an open letter to Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin asking for three cardinals to be removed from the World Meeting of Families set to take place alongside the Pope in Dublin next week.

The call comes just a day after a new report from the grand jury in the US alleged that at 301 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused children while serving in active ministry.