Pope to meet Irish sex abuse victims

On Aug 25-26 visit

(ANSA) - Vatican City, August 21 - Pope Francis will meet victims of priestly sex abuse on his August 25-26 visit to Ireland, the Vatican said Tuesday. Vatican Press Office chief Greg Burke made the announcement in presenting the pope's pastoral visit to the island, one of the many countries to have been racked by clerical sex abuse.
    Francis will also pray for the victims of abuse on Saturday in a Dublin cathedral in front of a lamp that has been put there to mark victims' suffering, Burke said.
    "It is important for the pope to listen to them", said Burke, who did not give details on where and when the meeting would take place.
    He said the victims would decide whether to divulge the contents of the meeting.
    The pope will also pray at the tomb of the 'patron saint of alcoholics', ex-Franciscan friar Matt Talbot. The announcement came a day after the pope apologised for being "too late" to stop "atrocities" on children, saying the Church had "abandoned the little ones", in reference to about a thousand kids abused in the latest case in the US.
    In an impassioned letter to the People of God, Francis voiced "shame and repentance" on the latest clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, saying authorities had acted too late.
    Francis said "with shame and repentance, as an ecclesiastical community, we admit that we did not go where we should have gone, that we did not act in time recognising the scope and gravity of the damage that was being caused to so many lives".
    He said "We neglected and abandoned the little ones".
    The pope said priestly sex abuse of children is a crime that "generates deep wounds".
    Francis said "we ask forgiveness" for the "atrocities" committed in priestly sex abuse of minors.
    The pontiff was forced to apologise earlier this year after dismissing victims' claims that Chilean Bishop Juan Barros witnessed and did nothing about abuse committed by the country's most notorious sexual predator, Father Fernando Karadima.
    Victims groups have complained that Francis has not done enough on the issue.