Pope Francis WILL meet Irish sex abuse survivors during visit, Vatican says

Pope Francis WILL meet Irish sex abuse survivors during visit, Vatican says

POPE FRANCIS WILL meet survivors of clerical sexual abuse during his visit to Ireland this weekend, the Vatican has confirmed.

Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke told the Reuters news agency this afternoon that details of the meeting would not be announced until after it was over.

He also said it will be up to the survivors whether or not they want to speak afterwards.

There had been widespread calls for the Pope to meet victims as part of his two-day trip to Dublin and Mayo on August 25 and 26.

On Monday, the Pontiff wrote an unprecedented letter to all Catholics in which he addressed clerical abuse openly for the first time.

He attacked those Church leaders more concerned for their reputations than the safety of children and condemned the "crimes" of abusive members of the clergy.

Pope Francis will visit Dublin and Co. Mayo on August 25 and 26 (Image: Getty)

"We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them," the Pope wrote.

"The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realising the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives."

However, a number of campaigners have accused the Pontiff of failing to recognise direct Vatican involvement in covering up clerical abuse.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Maeve Lewis, CEO of One in Four, said: "This is one of a long series of apologies that we’ve heard from the Vatican.

"Every time there is an independent inquiry the same pattern emerges that the Church has acted to protect the reputation of the Church rather than to protect children".

Ms Lewis added: "The Vatican for example is not acknowledging its role in the cover up over the years at all. There is no mention of that in the letter."