Leo Varadkar warned that there “can only be zero tolerance" for those who abuse children

Pope Francis has said that the failure of Church authorities to adequately address clerical child sex abuse within the Church remains a “source of pain and shame” for Catholic leadership.

Speaking at a State reception in Dublin Castle, the Pope said he “could not 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.”

"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,” he said.

“I myself share those sentiments.”

Pope Francis delivers a speech in St Patrick's Hall at Dublin Castle, 25-08-2018. Image:  Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

The Pontiff claimed that his predecessor, Pope Benedict had “spared no words” in recognising the gravity of the situation and demanding that “truly evangelical, just and effective” measures be taken in response to the abuse.

He said Pope Benedict’s “frank and decisive intervention” would continue to serve as an incentive for church leadership to “remedy past mistakes” and to implement policies to “ensure that they do not happen again.”

“It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast light on the failings of many, will serve to emphasize the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole,” he said.

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Dublin Castle, 25-08-2018. Image:  Gregorio Borgia/AP/Press Association Images

Stain on our State

Earlier, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on Pope Francis to “use your office and influence" to bring about "justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors” of clerical abuse.

Leo Varadkar warned that there “can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate that abuse.”

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that both the Church and the Irish State have failed the most vulnerable members of society in the past.

He said a “history of sorrow and shame” and the “failures of both Church and State and wider society created a bitter and broken heritage for so many, leaving a legacy of pain and suffering.”

“In place of Christian charity, forgiveness and compassion, far too often there was judgement, severity and cruelty, in particular, towards women and children and those on the margins,” he said.

“Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse are stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church.

“Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors.”

The Taoiseach and the Pope at Dublin Castle, 25-08-2018. Image:  Gregorio Borgia/AP/Press Association Images

He called on Pope Francis to “use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the World.”

“In recent weeks, we have all listened to heart-breaking stories from Pennsylvania of brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church, and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims,” he said.

“It is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland. 

“There can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate that abuse.

“We must now ensure that from words flow actions.”

The eyes of the world have been on the visit amid speculation over whether the Pope would talk publicly about the physical and sexual abuse of children and others within the Church.

He will meet with survivors of abuse during his 36 hours in Ireland – however, it is not known where or when that will happen.