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Only 130,000 of Half-Million Expected Attend Papal Mass

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© REUTERS/Dylan Martinez


By Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek

Less than one-quarter of the people expected to attend Pope Francis' mass in Phoenix Park came to the Sunday event in Dublin amid large-scale protests against child sex abuse in the church.

Organizers made more than than 500,000 tickets available for the first papal visit to Ireland since 2.5 million people saw Pope John Paul II in October 1979. Heavy rains and poor weather were blamed for the fact that 130,000 people came out to see Pope Francis. Members of the gardaĆ­, or Irish Republic police force, confirmed to TheJournal.ie that attendance was well below organizer expectations.

But protests over ongoing sexual abuse scandals and decades of cover-ups have rocked the international Catholic Church's leaders and members, which the Vatican estimates at nearly 1.2 billion people worldwide.

Late Saturday, a former senior Vatican official said that the Pope should step down, and accused him of knowing more than he had said about the scandals.

The pope addressed the clerical abuse scandals, deviating from his prepared address after the Vatican was criticized for waiting several days to proclaim "shame and sorrow" over a damning Pennsylvania grand jury report.

"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."

Photos emerged on social media showing protests and graffitti along the Dublin streets in which the pontiff's "Popemobile" traveled to Phoenix Park. But many of the 130,000 attendees told local publications they were excited to see Pope Francis amid the pouring rain, which they pointed to as the cause for any reduction in attendance.


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