Pope admits Church abuse ‘shame and pain’ on Ireland visit

Pope Francis leaves St Patricks Hall in Dublin Castle in Dublin on August 25, 2018, during his visit to Ireland to attend the 2018 World Meeting of Families. (AFP)
Updated 25 August 2018
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Pope admits Church abuse ‘shame and pain’ on Ireland visit

  • Pope acknowledges "grave scandal" caused in Ireland

DUBLIN: Pope Francis marked the first papal visit to Ireland in 39 years by acknowledging that the failure of Church authorities to adequately address "repugnant" clerical child abuse crimes there remains a source of shame for the Catholic community.
Francis arrived on Saturday for a highly charged visit to a society transformed since more than three-quarters of the population flocked to see Pope John Paul II in 1979 and beset by the kind of abuse scandals that have once more mired the Catholic Church in crisis.
"I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education," Francis told a state reception attended by some abuse survivors.
"The failure of ecclesiastical authorities - bishops, religious superiors, priests and others - adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community."
One of the abuse survivors present, Colm O'Gorman, called the pope's remarks a staggering effort at deflection that failed to acknowledge the Vatican's role in covering up the crimes.
"It was quite shocking actually in some ways," O'Gorman, a leading abuse campaigner, told national broadcaster RTE.
Today, Ireland is no longer the staunchly Catholic country it was in 1979 when divorce and contraception were illegal and over the past three years, voters have approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the will of the Church.
Francis asked that Ireland would not forget "the powerful strains of the Christian message" that have sustained it in the past, and can continue to do so in the future.
Numbers lining the streets or joining the pope in prayer are expected to be about a quarter of the 2.7 million who greeted John Paul II, marking how the rock that was once Irish Catholicism has eroded since child abuse cases came to light in the 1990s.
Francis began the two-day trip by visiting Irish President Michael D. Higgins' who said he raised with the pope the immense suffering caused by child sex abuse and anger which had been conveyed to him at what was perceived to be the impunity enjoyed by those responsible.

PROTESTS PLANNED
The pope will travel on Sunday to Knock, a small western village steeped in Catholicism that welcomes 1.5 million pilgrims a year, before finishing his trip by saying mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park, where a large cross erected for the 1979 visit still dominates the skyline.
The 500,000 tickets issued for the mass were quickly snapped up, although an unknown number have been booked by a boycott group called "Say Nope To The Pope" which encouraged protesters to order tickets and not use them.
Still, pictures of the pope were on the front pages of every newspaper on Saturday and there was excitement among some on Dublin's streets as the city centre prepared to go on lockdown.
"I'm delighted he is coming, I think it makes a great change from the last few years of bad news for the Church," said Dubliner Kyle O'Sullivan.
Protests are also planned. Large images of abuse victims and the hashtag #Stand4Truth - promoting a gathering of survivors and supporters elsewhere in Dublin during Sunday's mass - were projected onto some of the city's most recognised buildings on Friday night, including Dublin's Pro Cathedral.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 22 September 2018
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India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”