Pope Francis said at the start of a visit to Ireland on Saturday that he shares the outrage of rank-and-file Catholics over the failure of church authorities to punish the "repugnant crimes" of priests who raped and molested children. Seeking to respond to a global outcry over the abuse scandal, Francis cited measures taken by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to respond to the crisis. But Benedict never acknowledged the Vatican's role in fueling a culture of cover-up, and Francis provided no new details of any measures he would take to sanction bishops who fail to protect their flocks, reports the AP. "The failure of ecclesial authorities ... to adequately address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share these sentiments," the pope said in a speech to government and civil authorities at Dublin Castle.
Adding to his prepared remarks, Francis said he was committed to ridding the church of this "scourge" no matter the moral cost or amount of suffering. Francis was expected to meet with victims during his 36-hour visit to Ireland. But neither his words at the start of his visit nor a new meeting with victims is likely to assuage demands for heads to roll over the scandal. Perhaps in an indication of popular sentiments, the reception Francis received in Dublin contrasted sharply with the raucous, rock star welcome that greeted St. John Paul II in 1979. No one from the general public was on hand at the airport or the roads nearby, and only a handful of people waited to cheer him outside the Vatican residence, despite gloriously sunny weekend weather.
(Read more Pope Francis