Pope Francis heads to Ireland as Catholic Church reels from sex abuse scandals

Pope to visit Ireland

DUBLIN — Missouri's attorney general launched a statewide investigation Thursday into sex crimes within the Catholic Church. The probe follows an investigation in Pennsylvania that determined more than 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children.

This weekend, Pope Francis is visiting Ireland, a Catholic country battling its own abuse scandal. When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland back in 1979, 2.5 million Catholics turned out. Only a fraction of that crowd is expected to greet Pope Francis.

One group of protesters is sending their own message, allegedly getting hundreds of tickets to one event, with no intention of showing up.

The pope's visit unfolds in the shadow of yet another round of abuse allegations and cover-ups, most prominently from the explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, who arrived in Ireland from Chicago, called it a "catalog of horrors." CBS News spoke to him about some of the allegations, including one section in the report that describes a group of priests who marked their victims with crucifixes to identify individuals who were deemed easier targets.

"I think that if such a ring existed, we have the measures by which we could detect it," Cupich said.

Sister Liz Murphy, an Irish nun, says the entire church needs reform.

"It is a very male, masculine, institutional, top down, dictatorial body," she said. "Who wouldn't want, as a woman, to see that collapse?"

Those words, from a nun, were once unthinkable, along with what's happened in Ireland. CBS News asked Murphy how the pope will survive this pivotal moment.

"This is a virus, and this is not going to be healed over these coming days," she said.

"Whether it's here in Ireland or somewhere else, he does have to give some specific steps," said Cupich.

That is what the Catholic world is waiting for — to see what, if anything the pope says publicly about church abuse.

Catholic Church covered up abuse by 301 Pennsylvania priests, report finds