Expectation increases that Pope will visit North

Posted By: October 22, 2016

Claire Simpson. Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, October 22, 2016
EXPECTATIONS have increased that the Pope will visit the north after Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the Pontiff has been invited to attend the World Meeting of Families in Ireland.

The meeting is to be held in Dublin in 2018 but more events are also planned across Ireland.

Mr Kenny, right, said Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin had confirmed the invite.

 The Taoiseach said the government would do all it could to welcome the Pope, should he attend.

 Mr Kenny said: “If the Pope decides to accept the invitation I assured [Archbishop Martin] that the government would respond appropriately, would approve of that and would welcome Pope Francis and would make all the arrangements to treat him in a proper and respectful manner as befits his position as head of the Catholic Church.

 “It’s a matter for the Pope himself to decide if he wishes to accept the invitation.”

 The Catholic Church later released a statement saying: “In January on behalf of the Irish bishops, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, jointly invited Pope Francis ‘to visit Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in 2018’.”

 “In March the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, His Excellency Archbishop Charles Brown acknowledged the bishops’ invitation and wrote ‘to convey the gratitude of Pope Francis for the invitation’ while continuing ‘kindly be assured the invitation will be given careful consideration’,” the statement read.
“The Apostolic Nuncio concluded: ‘The Holy Father remembers the people of Ireland in his prayers, and asks them to remember his own intentions in their prayers, as he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing’.”
If Pope Francis does attend the meeting, it will be the first time a pontiff has set foot on Irish soil since Pope John Paul II’s successful visit in 1979.
That trip was planned to include Northern Ireland, but he did not end up crossing the border following the murder of Lord Mountbatten and the deaths of 18 British soldiers ambushed outside Warrenpoint.
Instead of travelling to Armagh as originally intended, he delivered his message of peace from across the border at Drogheda before a massive crowd – containing many from the north.