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Abuse Survivor On Pope's Visit To Ireland


Pope Francis concludes his two-day visit to Ireland today, leading Sunday Mass in a Dublin park. He told Catholics that he begs the Lord's forgiveness for sexual abuse committed by priests, as well as the sense of betrayal felt by many of the faithful. Yesterday, the pope met with Irish victims of clergy sexual abuse. The failure of the church to address those crimes, the pope said, is a source of pain and shame and rightful outrage. Darren McGavin is one of the many survivors of sexual abuse by an Irish priest. As a child, he was raped repeatedly by Father Tony Walsh, now considered one of the most notorious child sexual abusers in the Irish priesthood. He's in prison now thanks to Mr. McGavin's testimony. Darren McGavin says he's not satisfied by anything he's heard from Pope Francis.

DARREN MCGAVIN: No, none whatsoever. The - any of the apologies that he's given we've already heard here. And there are no - there's no actions whatsoever.

BLOCK: You say no actions. What actions would you want to see?

MCGAVIN: Well, first of all, if he's as sincere and shameful as he says that he is, I think that the only way for him to take the shame away from himself would be to settle an independent institution or organization funded by the church - view - to handing over all and any relevant files about allegations of clerical sexual abuse. And by openly allowing these files to be given and that those who held back from disclosing to him the Irish bishops and cardinals that have covered up the abuse so that the priest could be moved on to other states and other communities - that they be held accountable.

BLOCK: Have you heard anything about the meeting with Pope Francis this weekend with some of the child sexual abuse survivors? Do you know how that went?

MCGAVIN: I heard nothing whatsoever. I wasn't informed about it. I wasn't invited in any capacity.

BLOCK: Mr. McGavin, do you still consider yourself a Catholic?

MCGAVIN: Certainly not.


MCGAVIN: I was only a baby when I was baptized, so I hadn't got a say on the religion. So I asked the archbishop to get in contact with the Vatican with a view to being excommunicated, a letter to that extent and, also, a letter of apology, which I haven't received yet.

BLOCK: Would there be anything that this pope or any other pope could say that might convince you to turn back to the church?

MCGAVIN: Nothing that he would say would make me turn back to the church, but his actions might. I just want to add, as well, to your listeners that I'm not anti-Catholic. I'm not anti-priest. I'm not anti-faith. I'm just anti-pedophile, anti-predator and anti-cover-upper (ph). So for any listeners out there that have got faith in God, I would urge them to stand strong to that and forget about me and forget the other survivors. We will fight in our own battles. Or, through their own prayer, maybe they can get through to God, who can get through to the pope to do the right thing.

BLOCK: That's Darren McGavin speaking with us on Skype from Dublin. He is a survivor of child sexual abuse by an Irish priest. Mr. McGavin, thank you so much for talking with us.

MCGAVIN: You're very welcome. And thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.