Frank visits Dublin

So how is the pope’s visit to Ireland going? Not all that swimmingly.

On the second day of a difficult mission to win back the confidence of Irish Roman Catholics, Pope Francis awoke on Sunday to a bombshell accusation from within his own citadel.

A former top-ranking Vatican official released a 7,000-word letter asserting that the pontiff had known about the abuses of a now-disgraced American prelate, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, years before they became public.

The official, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a conservative critic of Francis and a former apostolic nuncio to the United States, claimed that the pope had failed to punish Cardinal McCarrick, who was suspendedin June after allegations that he had coerced seminarians into sexual relationships. He was also found to have abused a teenage altar boy 47 years ago, when he was a priest in New York.

In the letter, published on Saturday in Italian by The National Catholic Register and in English by LifeSiteNews, both critical of Francis, the archbishop called on the pope to resign.

The irony here is that they’re critical of him because he’s not reactionary enough.

The archbishop’s startling accusation will not come as a complete surprise to Vatican watchers, since he is part of a conservative camp that blames liberals, like the pope, for allowing homosexuality in the church. But it further complicates Francis’ efforts to convince Irish Catholics that the church is ready to confront its legacy of concealing sexual abuse.

Too bad they won’t consider allowing women in the church; then priests could just rape them to their hearts’ content and everything would be copacetic. But of course it’s silly to suggest it. Homosexuality is naughty but women are filth, pollution, satanic, emanations from hell.

Meanwhile, attendance has been comparatively sparse.

Credit Liam Mcburney/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

That’s the Phoenix Park event. Reminiscent of those photos of Trump’s inauguration, isn’t it.

Thirty-nine years ago, when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in Phoenix Park in Dublin, around a million people — roughly a third of Ireland’s population — showed up.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, the crowd that gathered for Pope Francis was nowhere near as large.

Aerial footage showed fewer people than expected on the streets to greet Francis as he made his way around in his Popemobile, for example, to St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral from Dublin Castle on Saturday. It was unclear whether a protest called “Say Nope to the Pope,” which encouraged people to snap up free tickets and then skip the events, was having an effect.

He did some apologizing for all that priestly child abuse.

He also acknowledged the church’s role in separating tens of thousands of unmarried mothers from their babies, and encouraged those mothers and children to reunite.

“For all those times when it was said to many single mothers who tried to look for their children who had been estranged from them, or to the children who were looking for their mothers, that it was a mortal sin,” he said. “This is not a mortal sin. It is the Fourth Commandment! We ask for forgiveness.”

Don’t. Don’t ask for anything. Turn it the other way. Make it about them, not you.

And anyway you can’t. You can’t expect mothers to “forgive” your theft of their children, and you can’t expect the stolen children to “forgive” your theft of their mothers. It’s not a forgivable thing.

Decades of clerical abuse, forced adoptions, forced labor in industrial houses and other exploitations of authority have gutted the Catholic Church in Ireland.

In other words the Catholic church treated much of the population of Ireland like so much dirt, while claiming ownership of the moral high ground. Forgive nothing.

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