Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar mentions LGBT couples in Pope Francis speech

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has delivered a speech to welcome the Pope to the country, in which he mentioned LGBT couples and condemned the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, he delivered a strong warning to the pontiff to take action against child abuse and cover ups.

The papal visit coincides with the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event.

“We have voted in our parliament and by referendum to modernise our laws – understanding that marriages do not always work, that women should make their own decisions, and that families come in many forms including those headed by a grandparent, lone parent, or same-sex parents or parents who are divorced,” Varadkar said.

Pope Francis disembarks from the aircraft as he arrives at Dublin Airport (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

“Building on our intertwined history, and learning from our shared mistakes, it can be one in which religion is no longer at the center of our society, but in which it still has an important place.”

Pro-LGBT demonstrators welcomed the Pope to Dublin earlier today with rainbow flags, signs and umbrellas.

The Taoiseach, who is openly gay, also said the abuse scandal had left a “legacy of pain and suffering” and that “there can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children.”

“We think of the words of Psalm which tells us that ‘children are a heritage from the Lord’ and we remember the way the failures of both Church and State and wider society created a bitter and broken heritage for so many, leaving a legacy of pain and suffering.

“It is a history of sorrow and shame. In place of Christian charity, forgiveness and compassion, far too often there was judgement, severity and cruelty, in particular towards women and children and those on the margins.”

Taoiseach of Ireland Leo Varadkar (Jack Taylor/Getty)

He added: “Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors.

“Holy Father, I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the World.”

The Pope expressed regret at the child abuse scandal, saying: “I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the church charged with responsibility for their protection and education – they are still in my heart.

“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.

“I myself share those sentiments.”