Abuse as a Barrier to Belonging: Pope Francis’ 2018 Visit to Ireland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores how Pope Francis’ historic August 2018 visit to Ireland exposed the role of the clerical sexual abuse scandals in the decline of the Catholic Church in what was once a stronghold of the faith. The paper includes narrative analysis of how Ireland’s “newspaper of record”, the Irish Times, covered the build-up and the events of Francis’ visit; and a nationally-representative poll commissioned by the author after the visit. In the month of August, 46 percent of articles in the Irish Times about the pope engaged with the clerical sexual abuse crisis in some way, reflecting public indignation about how the Catholic Church and Francis himself had handled abuse. The survey revealed that the most popular view among Irish people was that Francis had not done enough to address abuse, and that the visit had not been a healing time for victims and survivors. While recognising that the reasons for the decline of Catholicism in Ireland are multiple and complex, it argues that the failure of the Church to adequately address the abuse crisis has helped create a barrier to religious belonging that is unprecedented in the history of the Irish state.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019
Event14th European Sociological Association Conference 2019 - Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Aug 201923 Aug 2019


Conference14th European Sociological Association Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleESA 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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