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Abuse survivor: Pope Francis meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse 'an afterthought'

Archbishop Eamon Martin said he expects Pope Francis to meet victims of clerical sex abuse during his visit to Dublin next week. Picture by Hugh Russell

A CLERICAL abuse survivor has described a growing belief that Pope Francis will meet victims during his visit to Dublin next week as "an after thought".

It comes after the head of Ireland's Catholic Church, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said he would be "surprised" if the Pope did not meet victims of abuse during his 36-hour visit.

Pope Francis will arrive in Dublin next Saturday and attend the World Meeting of Families as well as travel to the Knock Shrine in Co Mayo on Sunday.

While there have been conflicting reports on whether the Pope will meet victims of clerical abuse, Archbishop Martin said he "would like to think" the pontiff will meet clerical sex abuse victims during his visit.

"I think he will reach out, he will try to express the grave sorrow of the Church," he told the BBC.

"But I think people want more than that.

"He will want to express the Church's commitment to ensure that if a member of your family is involved in any activity of the Church they are as safe there as they would be in your own home.

"They are as safe there as can possibly be."

He said he would be "surprised" if the Pope did not meet victims of abuse during his visit to the Republic.

"I would like to think that the Pope will meet with survivors of abuse but will also address this issue in some way during his presence among us," he added.

But abuse survivor Colm O'Gorman was last night critical of any meeting which he described on Twitter as "an after thought".

"It's clear the church sees such meetings as 'pastoral'. Instead there should be meetings at which the Pope, on behalf of the Vatican, listens and is properly accountable to victims."

Meanwhile, a statement by the Vatican on child abuse in the United States "falls short" on accountability, according to abuse survivor Marie Collins.

She was speaking after the Vatican said Pope Francis was on the side of victims of more than 300 "predator" priests in the US who are accused of abusing more than 1,000 children across seven decades.

While Ms Collins acknowledged that the statement labels abuse as "criminal", whereas in the past it was described only as "sinful", she said it was disappointing it "falls short" when it spoke about holding those to account who had enabled abuse.

Ms Collins said it should specifically have spoken about those "church leaders" who had enabled abuse.

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