ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin has called on Pope Francis to do more than just apologise for clerical abuse during his visit to Ireland next week.
Dr Martin said that when the pontiff visits the country next weekend he has to speak frankly about the Church’s past in Ireland but also about its future.
He added that structures which permit or facilitate abuse must be broken down forever everywhere, and expressed exasperation that this has not been done already.
In a homily delivered at Mass at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Dr Martin, who will host the World Meeting of Families, said the Pope’s visit will be short but intense.
“A short yet intense visit but also one with widespread expectation and joy and enthusiasm, while on the other hand a visit marked many anxieties about our Catholic Church in Ireland and wider afield and about the future of the Church," he said.
"I hope that we will all listen to what Pope Francis says, discuss it, but avoid poisonous murmuring which can only undermine what we all wish to attain.”
He hoped Pope Francis would “speak frankly about our past but also about our future. We need a Church with confidence: not the confidence of popularity or arrogance but the confidence that comes from men and women captivated by the message of Jesus.”
He also said the scandals of abuse in the Church have produced a deep-seated resentment among believers and anger at the role of Church leadership.
He said the number of victims was immense and that only the identity of some is known.
"When you add up all the categories of victims, you can see that the number was immense.We still only know the identity of some. It is not something that belongs to the past but a hurt that survivors and those close to them carry in their hearts every day of their lives," he said.
He added: "The anger is not just about abuse but also about a Church that was authoritarian, harsh, autocratic and self-protecting. We experienced a Church that felt that it knew all the answers."
Pope Francis will arrive in Ireland next Saturday 25th August, and will visit Knock shrine in Mayo before heading to Dublin where he will give mass at Croke Park.
Dr Martin concluded: “As we prepare for the visit of Pope Francis, let us pray then for the Irish Church of the future. Let us pray for those who still suffer the effects of abuse.
“Let us pray for the lonely, the abandoned, those without hope. Let us pray for those who are without a home. Let us pray for those who are hurt because the Church does not adequately recognise their dignity. Let us pray for all families.”