Papal visit latest: Pope Francis departs Ireland; Asks for forgiveness at Phoenix Park mass

Papal visit latest: Pope Francis departs Ireland; Asks for forgiveness at Phoenix Park mass

Latest: The wind played havoc with Pope Francis, flipping his cassock over his head, as the pontiff’s historic two-day trip to Ireland came to an end.

The pope was accompanied by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo as he pulled up to the tarmac at Dublin Airport in a blue Skoda after saying mass in Phoenix Park.

Pope Francis was greeted by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other dignitaries on the apron of the runway before his departure.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin were among those in attendance.

The pontiff smiled and shook hands with many people before ascending the steps to reach Aer Lingus’ St Aidan aircraft.

At the door, the pontiff paused, turned around, waved and blessed those who had come to say goodbye to him before heading inside.

It marked the culmination of a whirlwind visit to Ireland by the pontiff.

As the A321 jet pushed back from the runway, the papal flag and the tricolour were flown from the cockpit.

Under the command of Captain Steve Kelly, it took off shortly before 7pm on Sunday carrying more than 120 people.

Shortly after the pope took off, Mr Varadkar tweeted that he welcomed Pope Francis’s call for firm and decisive action when it came to addressing clerical sexual abuse.

The Taoiseach wrote: “We welcome Pope Francis’s call for firm and decisive action and for forgiveness.

“We now ask that from words flow actions.

“We thank Pope Francis for his visit and ask for his prayers.”

The aircraft was slightly modified for the occasion: the Papal Coat of Arms was applied on the exterior, while inside divider curtains were installed.

Update 6.50pm:A flight taking Pope Francis back to Rome has taken off from Dublin airport, bringing to an end his historic two day trip to Ireland.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shook hands with the pontiff as he said farewell on the apron of the runway.

Following the Pope’s departure, Mr Varadkar tweeted: “We welcome Pope Francis’s call for firm and decisive action and for forgiveness. We now ask that from words flow actions. We thank Pope Francis for his visit, and ask for his prayers.”

In the closing mass of the WMOF, The Pope has used a prayer to ask for forgiveness for abuse by Catholic church figures in the past.

The Pope listed a litany of different types of abuse and mistreatment inflicted on Irish people by church figures, including industrial laundries and clerical cover-ups of sex crimes.

On each occasion, he asked for forgiveness. The crowd applauded each time.

The Pope will be offered a final taste of Ireland if he samples soda bread on his flight home to Rome.

Aer Lingus chefs will provide a traditional menu on EI2408 for the flight.

Update 5.30pm: Pope Francis has held a meeting with Irish bishops ahead of his flight back to Rome this evening.

During his meeting, the Pope noted that the scandals had also caused “hurt and discouragement” to current members of the priesthood. The Pope said that was often “ignored or underestimated”.

He said: “A recurrent theme of my visit, of course, has been the Church’s need to acknowledge and remedy, with evangelical honesty and courage, past failures with regard to the protection of children and vulnerable adults.”

He said the bishops had “resolutely moved forward” with steps to better safeguard children within the Church.

“In these years, all of us have had our eyes opened to the gravity and extent of sexual abuse in various social settings,” he added.

In Ireland, as elsewhere, the honesty and integrity with which the Church chooses to confront this painful chapter of her history can offer an example and a warning to society as a whole.

Update 3.45pm: 'We ask for forgiveness' Pope Francis tells Phoenix Park crowds as he celebrates mass

In the closing mass of the World Meeting of families, Pope Francis referred to his meeting with eight survivors on Saturday evening and said he wanted to take up what they had said to him and seek forgiveness.

In a lengthy prayer to the crowd, the Pope listed a litany of different types of abuse and mistreatment inflicted on Irish people by church figures, including industrial laundries and clerical cover-ups of sex crimes.

On each occasion, he asked for forgiveness. The crowd applauded each time.

Addressing the crowds he said: “We ask forgiveness for the abuses in Ireland, abuses of power, of conscience, and sexual abuses perpetrated by members with roles of responsibility in the church."

In a special way, we ask pardon for all the abuses committed in various types of institutions run by males or female religious and by other members of the church, and we ask for forgiveness for those cases of manual work that so many young women and men were subjected to.

“We ask forgiveness.”

The Pope continued: “We ask forgiveness for the times that, as a church, we did not show the survivors of whatever kind of abuse the compassion and the seeking of justice and truth through concrete actions.

“We ask for forgiveness.”

Francis added: “We ask for forgiveness for some of the church hierarchy who did not take charge of these situations and kept quiet. We ask for forgiveness.

Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

“We ask for forgiveness for all those times in which many single mothers were told that to seek their children who had been separated from them – and the same being said to daughters and sons themselves – that this was a mortal sin. This is not a mortal sin.

“We ask for forgiveness.”

The pontiff ended the prayer by asking: “Give us the strength to work for justice. Amen.”

Update 3.15pm: Pope Francis has begun mass at the closing ceremony of the World Meeting of Families.

Led by a 3,000 strong choir, crowds joined in song after the Pope completed his lengthy journey through the congregation in Phoenix Park.

Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

All focus then turned to an altar below a huge white Papal Cross, as the pontiff – wearing a specially designed green vestment – began conducting religious proceedings.

Francis told the crowd: “Peace be with you”.

One of the women at the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal will be among those bringing offertory gifts to the altar.

Emma Mhic Mhathúna and her five children will join Olive Foley – the widow of former rugby international Anthony Foley - along with the family of one those killed in the Omagh bombing.

Update 2.37pm: Pope arrives in Phoenix Park to celebrate mass with thousands

The Pope has arrived at a huge outdoor religious gathering in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Francis was driven in a Popemobile through the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that have gathered for the Mass.

Well-wishers waved flags, cheered and reached out to touch the pontiff as he was driven in his Popemobile through throngs of the faithful who braved torrential rain and a three-kilometre hike to attend the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park.

A total of 500,000 free tickets were snapped up for the event but the inclement weather undoubtedly put off some from attending.

The arrival of Francis, at what has been billed as one of the biggest open air events in Europe this year, came hours after he begged for God’s forgiveness as he called for firm action in pursuing justice for church abuse victims in Ireland.

An aerial view of the crowd at Phoenix Park as Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
An aerial view of the crowd at Phoenix Park as Pope Francis attends the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Pope Francis waves to the crowds as he arrives in Phoenix Park. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Pope Francis waves to the crowds as he arrives in Phoenix Park. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Update - 12.45pm: Crowds arrive in Phoenix Park ahead of mass

Severe downpours have failed to dampen the spirits of pilgrims trekking to see the Pope in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Tens of thousands of people began making their way through the Parkgate Street entrance of the 700 hectare park this morning ahead of the pontiff’s mass, the largest outdoor event taking place in Europe this year.

Heuston Station was a hive of activity with people purchasing flags from street vendors and trying to meet others before walking into the park.

It appeared most people had heeded advice to take public transport and to be prepared for a long day.

Young and old wore rain jackets and plastic ponchos in an assortment of colours and many people carried fold up chairs.

The papal mass this afternoon will be the last event of Pope Francis’ two-day visit to the country.

People arriving in Phoenix Park. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
People arriving in Phoenix Park. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

The Pontiff arrived in Dublin at 12.15pm after boarding a flight from Knock Airport earlier following a visit to the famous Holy Shrine.

Pope Francis is due to arrive at the Phoenix Park at 2.30pm.

He will tour the park in his Popemobile before celebrating mass at 3pm.

Shortly after his appearance in Knock, a tweet from Pope Francis’ @Pontifex account repeated a line from his address to pilgrims: “I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors of abuse and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.”

Update - 11.30am: Pope heads for Dublin after visit to Knock Shrine

Pope Francis has departed Knock for Dublin.

Pope Francis waves to the crowds as he leaves Knock. Photo: Maxwells
Pope Francis waves to the crowds as he leaves Knock. Photo: Maxwells

He was greeted by well-wishers at the airport, and agreed to sign a Mayo GAA jersey just before climbing the steps to the plane.

The pontiff was sheltered from the rain by his aides holding an umbrella over his head, and turned for the final wave before departing.

Francis is due to arrive at the Phoenix Park in Dublin later to celebrate a mass starting at 3pm.

Update - 11am: Pope begs for forgiveness over child abuse 'betrayal'

The Pope has begged for God’s forgiveness for the “open wound” of church abuse in Ireland as he called for “firm and decisive” action to secure “truth and justice”.

At his address in Knock, Francis said no-one could be failed to be moved by stories of young abuse victims who were “robbed of their innocence” and “left scarred by painful memories”.

The pontiff said: “This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.

“I beg the Lord’s forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God’s family.

“I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.”

He has now departed the Shrine for his return to Dublin for the closing mass of the World Meeting of Families in the Phoenix Park this afternoon.

Update - 10.30: Pope Francis arrives at Knock Shrine

Pope Francis has arrived at the Knock Shrine.

He climbed the steps of a Popemobile – the second being used in Ireland during his visit – ahead of a tour through the thousands of pilgrims who have gathered at the Knock shrine in Co Mayo amid torrential rain to see the pontiff.

After concluding his Popemobile tour, Francis entered the chapel at the shrine site for a period of silent prayer.

Papal visit latest: Pope Francis departs Ireland; Asks for forgiveness at Phoenix Park mass

Update - 9.45am: Pope Francis lands in Knock

The Pope has landed at Knock Airport ahead of his visit to the famous Holy Shrine.

Around 100 schoolchildren from Co Mayo were awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis.

Four local schools were there to greet the Pontiff as he landed in heavy rain for the start of his second-day visit to Ireland. They waved Vatican and Mayo flags.

The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at Knock Airport. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at Knock Airport. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Update - 9.25am: Rain likely to put off some pilgrims in Knock

Catherine Shanahan, in Knock

Proceedings have got off to a very wet start in Co Mayo this morning with a likely knock-on effect on the size of the crowd at Knock Shrine.

With the arrival of Pope Francis imminent, there is still plenty of room in the grounds around the Basilica where the pilgrims are assigned to different zones.

While all 45,000 tickets were snapped up, the attendance does not currently reflect those numbers.

Knock Choir is warming up and the bells of churches in the family of six dioceses that make up the ecclesiastical province of Tuam have already rung out signalling the beginning of the gathering.

Earlier: Pope Francis to visit Knock Shrine

Papal visit latest: Pope Francis departs Ireland; Asks for forgiveness at Phoenix Park mass

Pope Francis is preparing to board an Aer Lingus flight for Knock this morning as he continues his historic two-day trip to Ireland.

The Pope will visit the Holy Shrine at 9.45am and say the Angelus in front of a crowd of 45,000.

Knock in Co Mayo was said to be the site of an apparition in 1879. Francis is following in the footsteps of his predecessor John Paul II, who arrived at the spot in 1979.

The rector of Knock Shrine said he expects Pope Francis to address issues which are paramount to the Catholic Church.

Fr Richard Gibbons told RTE he hoped the remarks would be significant and would have a resonance with those in attendance and the wider church community.

Pope Francis will then travel back to Dublin where around half a million people are expected to gather to hear the Pontiff address a huge outdoor Mass in Phoenix Park at 3pm this afternoon.

The religious engagements come after a day dominated by the legacy of historic scandals linked to church abuse and mistreatment in Ireland.

Yesterday, the Pope met a number of victims of criminality and cruelty inflicted by church members.

The private engagement in Dublin came hours after Francis expressed “pain and shame” over failures to tackle the scandals.

The world leader of the Catholic Church acknowledged that Irish people had a right to be outraged by its response to the crimes.

Later, inside a Dublin cathedral, he prayed for all victims of clerical sex abuse at a candle perpetually lit in tribute to them.

The Pope’s decision to address the dark legacy of abuse in a speech in Dublin Castle drew praise in some quarters, but others criticised Francis for not saying enough or offering a public apology.

With the reverberations of a litany of clerical sex crimes casting a shadow over the first papal visit to Ireland in almost 40 years, Francis acknowledged the gravity of what had happened.

“With regard to the most vulnerable, 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,” he said.

“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.

“I myself share those sentiments.”

Pope Francis shakes hands with Fr Kevin Crowley (WMOF18/Maxwell/PA)
Pope Francis shakes hands with Fr Kevin Crowley (WMOF18/Maxwell/PA)

Yesterday, the Pope also visited homeless people who receive support from a centre run by the Capuchin Fathers’ religious order.

In his Dublin Castle speech, the pontiff also expressed hope that remaining obstacles to reconciliation in Northern Ireland could be overcome.

Ireland has undergone seismic social changes in the four decades since the last papal visit in 1979, when John Paul II was lauded by a nation shaped by its relationship with an all-powerful Catholic Church.

While thousands lined the streets of the capital to catch a glimpse of Francis passing in his famous Popemobile yesterday afternoon, the crowds were certainly not on the scale witnessed when John Paul II made a similar trip.

And among the well-wishers lining Dublin’s streets there were also protesters, who vented their anger at the pontiff as he drove by.

Here is the schedule for Day 2:

8:40am: Pope departures by plane for Knock

9:20am: Arrival at Knock Airport

9.45am: Visit to the Apparition Chapel, Knock Shrine, followed by saying of the Angelus in front of the Shrine

11.15am: Departure by plane for Dublin

11.50am: Arrival at Dublin Airport followed by lunch with the Papal Delegation

2.30pm: Pope arrives at Phoenix Park. Meanwhile, the Stand4Trust protest is due to be held at the Garden of Remembrance

3pm: Closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families, Phoenix Park, followed by meeting with the bishops in the Convent of the Dominican Sisters and a speech by the Pope

6.45pm: Pope departs for Rome from Dublin Airport

PA & Digital Desk

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