Many people will, rightly, be sickened by the red carpet being rolled out and the fawning approach of the Irish establishment to Pope Francis and the Vatican. This is because of the repressive role which the church has played in Irish society over the last century, and the continued fraudulent covering up of child sex abuse internationally by the Vatican which continues to this day.
The inadequate apology which was issued by the Pope for the crimes of the Catholic Church has rightly been rejected by survivors in Ireland and internationally. The Catholic Church and the Vatican have for decades covered up cases of child sexual abuse, and facilitated this by moving priests from parish to parish where they continued their abuse. In recent weeks this has again been highlighted by the abuse scandal in Pennsylvania where over 300 priests were involved in abusing at least 1,000 children.
Solidarity fully supports the demands of survivors' groups for all files on child abuse hidden by the Vatican to be made public, for mandatory reporting of child abuse, the end of statutes of limitations and for full compensation and reparation to survivors. We fully support the demands of LGBTQ+ groups who demand that their sexuality, gender, relationships and families are acknowledged by the Catholic Church.
The shutting down of large parts of the city, alongside the commandeering of public transport systems to facilitate the mass, and the distribution by the state of passes to workers containing Catholic Church symbols shows how intertwined the church and state are. This is best demonstrated by the continued control of healthcare and education by the church. Alongside these measures, millions in public funds will be spent by the government on this visit, while at the same time members of the Defence Forces will be mobilised for the weekend on rates of pay amounting to little more than €1 an hour.
For some people the visit by Pope Francis will be an occasion when they will want to celebrate and express their religious beliefs. Solidarity defends and supports the freedom of all people to express their religious beliefs. There will be many people at the events who will support the calls for the Catholic hierarchy, institutions and Vatican to be held responsible for the crimes which have been committed. Religious beliefs should be a private matter which the state plays no part in, and it should not allow itself be used to white-wash the criminal role the Catholic Church has played.
The rotten relationship between the church and state has resulted in a century of abuse and repression in the lives of women, children, the LGBTQ+ community and the poor. Catholic dogma and social teaching saw young women banished into 'Mother and Baby Homes' where they were shamed, abused, used as slave labour and in many instances died. It saw the criminal stealing of babies from mothers and human-trafficking by nuns. It resulted in the horrific physical and sexual abuse of children in industrial schools and communities by members of the religious orders, the covering-up of these crimes and the refusal to pay proper reparations. It created the disgusting, nightmare situation in Tuam and probably other areas where babies were buried in septic tanks.
Because of the role which religion still plays in the state, this shouldn't be treated like the visit of any other head of head of state. It should be used as an opportunity to call out the criminal role and abuse which has been carried out by the church.
People have a right to show their opposition to the visit of the Pope because of the abuse that they have suffered and the suffering which the church has inflicted on society. Solidarity will stand in support of and in solidarity with survivors on Sunday at the Garden of Remembrance, and with members of the LGBTQ+ community who plan to oppose the visit.
The overwhelming results in the Equal Marriage and Repeal referendums show that people are rejecting church control over society and want separation of church and state. This means we need to break their hold over health and education so that we have secular services that don't allow religious doctrine to dictate what services are provided or what is taught in school such as in sex education.
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