Festive mood in Rome as pilgrims gather for canonisations

Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

Sat, Apr 26, 2014

The mood was festive in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican today as thousands of people from around the world began to gather for tomorrow morning’s canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.
There are very many Polish here but also large contingents from South America, particularly from Brazil and Argentina. And this reporter spotted one Irish tricolour but on investigation it was discovered that the owner “had gone for a walk.”

Groups of young people lay out in the sun, many on mats on which they planned to sleep overnight in order to hold their spot in the Square for tomorrow’s events.

Earlier, it was confirmed that retired Pope Benedict XVI will attend the ceremonies, where he will sit with the cardinals and bishops to the left of the sanctuary. …

The US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) staged a candle-lit vigil on the rooftop of a hotel near the Vatican in protest at the canonisation of Pope John Paul II, which they have described as “irresponsible and hurtful”.

The group said he “must have known” about the multiple sexual abuse allegations against Legionaries of Christ founder Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado.

Instead of disciplining or defrocking Fr Maciel, Pope John Paul II held a “highly publicised special ceremony celebrating the anniversary of Maciel’s ordination.”

Holding candles, signs and childhood photos, the clergy sex abuse victims stood in their rooftop vigil with St Peter’s Basilica in the background. They also read aloud an open letter – in French, German, Spanish and English – to victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers, urging them to keep speaking up and reporting crimes, “even though complicit Catholic officials (including Pope John Paul II) keep getting honored and promoted”.

They called for “every single incident or suspicion of clergy sex crimes and cover ups” to be reported to “secular officials, not church officials” to “boldly but compassionately keep reaching out and offering help to every single person who they know of or fear was sexually assaulted by clergy”.

They also made special reference to the “dozens of victims of the world’s most notorious predator priest – Fr Marcial Maciel – whose extensive crimes and misdeeds were ignored and hidden during Pope John Paul’s long papacy.”

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