Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 2 December, 2020

'The stench of hypocrisy from the whole visit has been rife in Dublin ever since the announcement that the Pope was coming'

Watching Dublin shut down for the arrival of the Pope is incredibly hard to stomach.

The entirety of Dublin is at a standstill. Roads are closed, streets shut down and many people aren’t going to be able to go anywhere. This isn’t the feel-good snow that meant thousands of kids got off school, no instead the Pope is coming to visit even though nobody really asked him to.

I should state from the off that I’ve been an atheist since I was eight years old. I made my First Communion and my Confirmation but only because I had to. My grandparent’s faith is very important to them and had I not gone through these sacraments, it would have upset them.

Is it hypocritical? Yes, but given I was eight and twelve, I wasn’t really thinking about the ethical implications of making those sacraments when they meant nothing to me.

I guess that’s what I struggle with facing into this weekend. The stench of hypocrisy from the whole visit has been rife in Dublin ever since the announcement that the Pope was coming.

The feeling that this isn’t a sincere visit, more of a press stunt, like getting Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba to do a video together for Manchester United’s social media to give off the impression that everything is fine. when in reality they want nothing to do with each other.

Forgive the clunky metaphor but I find it hard to believe that anyone actually wants this visit to happen. How could Leo Varadkar, a gay man really want to host the head of an institution that has viewed him as less his entire life simply because of his sexuality?

How could anyone want the Pope to be here after the countless revelations that have come out? The Magdalene laundries, the Tuam babies, the sexual abuse, the refusal to pay money owed to the victims of that abuse are just some of the vast amounts of abuses that the Catholic Church inflicted on so many of our family members and friends.

Of course, I want any Catholic to be able to see the leader of their church, they should be able to celebrate it. But the State should not be paying for it, not after all the abuse so many of us had to suffer through at the heart of the church. A hashtag won’t fix that.

And yet here we are, facing a complete shutdown of our capital city, forking out €32 million in the midst of the worst housing crisis in living memory, pushing homeless people out of the streets to welcome a man who represents everything we’ve been trying to escape for the last 40 years.

Source: Niall Carson

I could ignore this, lock myself in my apartment and pretend that this isn’t happening but it’s impossible, the hypocrisy is too much. Those same grandparents who would dearly love to go see the Pope cannot as they’re in their late eighties and as such wouldn’t be able for the long walking distances and waiting times required to get into the Phoenix Park.

While I cannot understand their faith in this institution, I still want them to be able to express it. Hosting an event like that in the Phoenix Park with no seating when they know the age demographic of who is likely to attend is farcical. It just adds to the idea that this a publicity stunt by the Vatican pretending like everything is fine when in reality the Catholic Church is in tatters in Ireland. As it should be.

This visit will harm more than it heals. Between the survivors who will be re-traumatised and those who could have availed of that €32 million we have yet again failed our citizens who need us the most.

If you can make it, Stand4Truth will be holding a peaceful protest at the Garden of Remembrance, on Sunday from 3pm to remind the Pope that even if he chooses to forget what his institution has done Ireland, we won’t.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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