We asked a range of people to deliver a "post to the pope" in advance of Pope Francis' Irish visit. The views reflect the changed social landscape since Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979.


Marie Flynn, Carlow

Marie Flynn is a survivor of Irish clerical sexual abuse from Co Carlow.

Image - Marie Flynn pictured with her children, Adam and Nicole, at their home in Co Carlow

Marie Flynn pictured with her children, Adam and Nicole, at their home in Co Carlow

Pope Francis, I met you four years ago in the Vatican. I feel a huge sense of disappointment. In your letter to me following our meeting, you said you would respond to concerns I had with you. My abuser got no punishment for what he did to me. It is my opinion that you have not responded adequately. You need to continue to meet with survivors and let them tell you their stories to get a sense of the betrayal, shame, lack of trust and sadness that we carry in our hearts for our younger selves. 

Do not get desensitised by our stories.
Listen and act.

Do not get desensitised by our stories. Listen and act. Admit what responsibility the Vatican and church leaders have for the events of this country's past. It is only by taking responsibility for its abuse, by holding the old leadership to account, can the Pope begin to rekindle the waning faith of the Irish people.


Donal Healy, Mayo

Donal Healy is the head of marketing at Ireland West Airport Knock.

Image - Donal Healy from Ireland West Airport Knock, Co Mayo

Donal Healy from Ireland West Airport Knock, Co Mayo

We are absolutely honoured and delighted to be welcoming you to the airport on 26 August for what is going to be a historic visit, not just to the airport, but for the west of Ireland. I am sure you are well aware of the backstory of this airport. 

I think it is both symbolic and historic that you will touch down for the very first time at Ireland West Airport Knock on your first visit to the west.

Following the last papal visit in 1979 Monsignor James Horan had the vision to build an airport, close to Knock Shrine, to bring visitors and pilgrims directly to the west of Ireland. Now, 39 years later, the airport is the fourth biggest in Ireland, welcoming 800,000 passengers this year. I think it is both symbolic and historic that you will touch down for the very first time at Ireland West Airport Knock on your first visit to the west.


Catherine Pryce, Galway

Catherine Pryce, from Clifden, Co Galway, is the mother of two young children, Louis and Patrick.

Image - Catherine Pryce, from Clifden, Co Galway (pictured with her son Louis, 4, and baby Patrick)

Catherine Pryce, from Clifden, Co Galway (pictured with her son Louis, 4, and baby Patrick)

Pope Francis, my message to you is to ask you to increase the role of women in the Catholic Church. I think a major factor in the future of the church will be the inclusion of women as priests. There are so many women in this country who could bring compassion, wisdom and progress to the church. I hope that in time the Catholic Church will recognise that. 

If I could think of one thing that would renew and restore my faith in the Catholic Church it would be the inclusion of women as equals.

Like a lot of people my age and of my generation, I was raised and educated in the Catholic faith. However, I went away from the church because of a conflict in my values and belief systems, many of which were directly related to being female. If I could think of one thing that would renew and restore my faith in the Catholic Church it would be the inclusion of women as equals. My message to you is to ask you to invite us in. Do not just allow us in. We want to be equals. 


Clodagh Leonard, Mayo

Clodagh Leonard from Co Mayo is a member of the LGBTQ community.

Image - Clodagh Leonard, from Co Mayo, a member of the LGBTQ community

Clodagh Leonard, from Co Mayo, a member of the LGBTQ community

Pope Francis, the Ireland that you visit this year is extremely different from the one Pope John Paul II visited 39 years ago. In the intervening years we have legalised divorce, legalised marriage equality and we have repealed the Eighth Amendment. We have grown and matured as a nation in the way that we are compassionate towards one another and we have grown in our understanding of what a family is. This summer in our Pride celebrations in Dublin, we celebrated under the theme "We are Family" and we included anybody who wanted to participate. This included people of faith and of no faith whatsoever, people from all different backgrounds, sexualities and identities.

We believe that you should always be inclusive and anybody is welcome.

However, we were disappointed to see that your World Meeting of Families does not appear to feel the same way. A number of LGBT people had hoped to participate and were turned away.

I believe in an Ireland that includes everybody and finds a place for everybody in their hearts and that we all are under the one umbrella. We all are family and an event like this really exposes the fact that this is not everybody's belief. Growing up I was always taught that the core tenet of my faith was to treat others as I wish to be treated. I am disappointed in this case to see that is no longer the fact.


Ellie Kisyombe, Dublin

Ellie Kisyombe is an asylum seeker from Malawi who has been living in Direct Provision for nine years. She is the co-founder of 'Our Table', an organisation which helps to integrate asylum seekers and refugees by using food to break down barriers.

Image - Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker from Malawi, who lives in Dublin

Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker from Malawi, who lives in Dublin

I hope that the Pope will use his position to help bring about the end of the Direct Provision system that has deprived me and many other families of normal lives. My parents used to tell me that when I am in trouble, or in a difficult situation, I should go to church, do my rosary and pray the novena.

For the thousands of people who are living in Direct Provision, I hope that Pope Francis prays for us.

I have done those things. I know Pope Francis has spoken about the power of family and the plight of refugees. For the thousands of people who are living in Direct Provision, I hope that Pope Francis prays for us. I also hope he talks about Direct Provision to help bring an end to this system that causes so much hurt for families.


Alex McGrath, Dublin

Alex McGrath is a keen photographer from Dublin who has experienced homelessness.

Image - Alex McGrath, a keen photographer from Dublin who has experienced homelessness

Alex McGrath, a keen photographer from Dublin who has experienced homelessness

I remember in 1979 when Pope John Paul was here. Homelessness was a thing we knew nothing about. You never heard of it. Forty years on, Pope Francis is coming and this country has gone backwards on homelessness. There are so many families walking around the streets of Dublin today, it's unreal. I notice them because I have been in that situation myself. 

Forty years on, Pope Francis is coming and this country has gone backwards on homelessness.

I see children walking the streets, being dragged along by their mothers and fathers all day long, waiting to find somewhere to sleep. I wish the Pope could see that. Forty years ago it was so different. How it has come to this is beyond me. 


Sinéad Mercier, Galway

Sinéad Mercier is an environmentalist

Image - Sinéad Mercier, from Co Galway, pictured at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Co Dublin

Sinéad Mercier, from Co Galway, pictured at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Co Dublin

I am standing here at The Forty Foot in Sandycove in Dublin. These waters are planned for drilling for oil and gas by Providence Resources this time next year. The Forty Foot is also where my grandmother was barred from swimming as it was a men-only swimming spot. I'd like to say to you Pope Francis that these two issues are interlinked. Pope Francis, your papal encyclical Laudato Si' has been a major inspiration to me in my daily life and in my work on climate change. I deeply admire the fact that you addressed economic injustice as well as the fact that we are destroying our beautiful and fragile planet. 

I'd like to ask you Pope Francis to please read the works of Mary Robinson, our former president who deals climate justice and says that economic injustice and climate change cannot be adequately dealt with unless you raise up the marginalised, unless you raise up women in particular.

However, many other people have been an inspiration to me in this work and those are my grandmothers, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and the innumerable other brilliant women that have built this land of Ireland and our planet. I'd like to ask you Pope Francis to please read the works of Mary Robinson, our former president who says that economic injustice and climate change cannot be adequately dealt with unless you raise up the marginalised, unless you raise up women in particular.


Jono Griffin, Antrim

Jono Griffin is the director of the Surf Project, a pioneer ministry supported by the Methodist Church

Image - Jono Griffin from The Surf Project, a pioneer ministry supported by the Methodist Church in Ireland

Jono Griffin from The Surf Project, a pioneer ministry supported by the Methodist Church in Ireland

My message to the Pope would be that we, as a church, have to get outside of our church walls and meet people in their communities. We have to get to know their story and see how that can be intertwined into a story of life and faith. I think people in our churches need to be encouraged, inspired and challenged to get outside of their church walls and meet people where they are at. 

I think people in our churches need to be encouraged, inspired and challenged to get outside of their church walls and meet people where they are at. 

I think there is a hunger out there. People want to know about God and they want to talk about spirituality. I just think we have to consider how we do it. But if we do step out in faith, if we are creative, relevant and real with people, they will listen. Conversations will happen. We can ultimately point people towards God so that they can see God for who He is, not through the lens of a building or a church


Sister Fiachra, Waterford

Sr Fiachra is from St Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford.  The only Cistercian monastery for women in Ireland has made a donation of 150,000 Eucharist Breads to the World Meeting of Families.

Image - Sister Fiachra from St Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford

Sister Fiachra from St Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford

Pope Francis, we have been so full of joy and privilege at the idea that we have produced altar breads for the World Meeting of Families. As we have mixed, baked, humidified and cut, sorted and packed these hosts, we have been praying for families, for you and for the successful outcome of this event which with God's help we hope will bear much fruit across the globe. 

As we have mixed, baked, humidified and cut, sorted and packed these hosts, we have been praying for families, for you and for the successful outcome of this event which with God's help we hope will bear much fruit across the globe.

Holy Father, we want to assure you of our continuing prayers for you, that you will enjoy the fullness of health which will enable God's spirit to continue his good work in you, a shepherd and guide of the worldwide family which is the Catholic Church. We also pray your visit to our country will be warmly welcomed and give rise to significant and much needed renewal in our church at this time.


Jane Boland, Tipperary

Jane Boland, an 11 year-old schoolgirl from Nenagh, won an art competition sponsored by World Missions Ireland to design a vestment for Pope Francis.

Image - Jane Boland, 11, from Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Jane Boland, 11, from Nenagh, Co Tipperary

My message to Pope Francis is in my winning design – to make the world a better place. I would like everyone in the world to be equal. I would like it if families could live together in their own homes. 

I would like everyone in the world to be equal. I would like it if families could live together in their own homes.

My design is about how people are all different in their own special way, but also in God's eyes we are all the same. I think Pope Francis is a really good man. I like his quote about how art makes the world a better place. I think it really does, as it relaxes you and makes you forget about all your worries.


Kristina Chaloir and Julian Brigatti, Dublin

Tango dancers Kristina Chaloir and Julian Brigatti from Argentina will be performing at the Festival of Families at Croke Park in Dublin, which will be attended by Pope Francis.

Image - Kristina Chaloir and Julian Brigatti, tango dancers from Argentina

Kristina Chaloir and Julian Brigatti, tango dancers from Argentina

Anyone who comes to us whether we are choreographing, performing or teaching, associates Argentina with Messi, Maradona and, in the last few years, Pope Francis!

My message to Pope Francis is that the world really needs connection, love and compassion.

I am really excited to see how much enthusiasm there is for his visit. My wish is that his visit brings people together through art in the Festival of Families at Croke Park, through prayer and through the depth of spirituality, so that we can all come together and heal anything that needs to be healed.


Lewis Kenny, Dublin

Lewis Kenny is a spoken word poet from Dublin who is currently based in Skibbereen, Co Cork.

Image - Lewis Kenny, a spoken word poet from Cabra in Dublin, based in Skibbereen, Co Cork

Lewis Kenny, a spoken word poet from Cabra in Dublin, based in Skibbereen, Co Cork

Daoine na hÉireann
Rise up and cut loose the veil of torment
That has plagued our people
Since the famine days.
For too long we've allowed
The ovarian vice grip of
A catholic patriarchal ascendency
With matricidal tendencies
Have the final say.
For too long we've been corrupted
By the wickedness of the tyrannical
And insane.
The old horse and cart
church and state.
A trust betrayed.
How did it go from your photograph
on every single mantelpiece
To scandal after scandal
That just didn't seem to cease.
Magdalene laundries
washing away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us
Time can heal all wounds
But blood doesn't easily
come off the cloth.
We've invited the wolf back to dinner
Only for it to again huff and puff and
blow smoke and mirrors.
He hasn't forgotten
So let's make it clearer.
Old Ireland is dead and decaying
Buried in a septic tank somewhere
Erin's body is a temple
But it'll no longer be your place of worship.