Pope Francis met by pro-LGBT demonstrators and rainbow flags in Dublin

Around 37,000 people are expected to attend the World Meeting of Families event in Dublin this week

Pope Francis has paraded through the streets of Dublin as a busy first day of the Papal Visit continues.

"I'm delighted he is coming, I think it makes a great change from the last few years of bad news for the Church", said Dubliner Kyle O'Sullivan.

On Sunday, the Pope will fly west to Co Mayo, where he will follow in the footsteps of John Paul II and take part in a religious service at a Holy shrine in Knock.

His refusal to do so during a 2016 trip to Mexico riled some victims, given the country is home to the founder of the Legion of Christ, the Reverend Marcial Maciel, perhaps the most notorious paedophile of the 20th century Catholic Church. But neither his words at the start of his visit nor a new meeting with victims is likely to assuage demands for heads to roll over the sex abuse scandal.

Marie Collins, who was abused by a priest when she was being treated in hospital at the age of 13, was also among the eight.

Some Irish Catholics have said they want the pope to ask forgiveness for the Vatican's role in facilitating the coverup of sexual crimes.

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More than three-quarters of the Irish population flocked to see Pope John Paul II in 1979 at a time when divorce and contraception were illegal.

Critics of the Church have also been preparing for Francis.

The trip, Francis' most direct encounter yet with the ramifications of those scandals, is expected to test whether he can begin to rebuild the church's standing in a country where Catholicism was once the social and religious bedrock. They are asking him to publicly state that their mothers had done nothing wrong and to encourage reconciliation between all unwed mothers, many of them now aged, who were forced by society and the church to give up their children.

The stage design for the Festival of Families will includes a "Circle of Encounter" where Pope Francis will join with families from across the world.

"He is welcome as a guest but he is going to have to take action rather than repeat platitudes if we are really going to have any respect for the Church generally", said Helen Carey, a visual arts curator, walking past Dublin Castle where the state reception will be held.

The protest invites anyone who has "been harmed or abused by the Roman Catholic Church or who wishes to stand in solidarity with those harmed by its actions" to join the event at 3 pm at The Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.

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Pope Francis landed in Dublin on Saturday, his visit eclipsed by the latest sex abuse scandal that touched at least a thousand people in Pennsylvania and opened wounds in Ireland.

Pope Francis leads a mass to mark the first World Day of the Poor on 19 November 2017 at St Peter's Basilica in Vatican.

Francis urged the Irish to recognize that for all its failings, the Catholic Church educated and cared for generations of Irish children in times of starvation and great poverty.

Earlier, in his welcome speech at Dublin Castle, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar referred to "dark aspects of the Catholic Church's history".

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who past year became Ireland's first gay leader, told Francis that the wounds of clerical child abuse that stained the Irish state were still open and there was much to be done to bring about justice and healing for victims.

The Coalition said that Pope Francis agreed to include a message that natural mothers who lost their children to adoption did nothing wrong in his Phoenix Park mass on Sunday.

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