Cardinal raises hopes of visit by the Pope
HOPES that the Pope will travel to Ireland this year have been raised after Cardinal Sean Brady said the timing is right.
The Primate of All Ireland said he is hopeful that the first papal visit for more than 30 years would take place in 2012.
Last weekend, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, downplayed the prospect of a visit by Pope Benedict.
In a radio interview, Dr Martin said the determining factor would be the extent of the healing from abuse scandals, but stressed there were "still many steps to be taken".
However, Dr Brady insisted that a papal visit was still very much on the cards.
Speaking to 'The Irish Catholic', he said: "My hope is that the Pope will come. I was listening to Archbishop Martin at the weekend about whether the moment is right or not. My hope is that the moment would be right."
However, Cardinal Brady admitted that he had received no indication from the Vatican yet as to whether or not the Pope will come this year. Sources in Rome have said that a papal visit is increasingly unlikely before the end of the year, given the fact that the Eucharistic Congress is just over 100 days away.
A senior Vatican source said papal itineraries are usually released months in advance. He added that the Pontiff intends to travel to Lebanon in September, some three months after the Dublin event.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to descend on the capital from June 10 to June 17 for the 50th Eucharistic Congress. Up to 5,000 pilgrims will participate in daily events, while 80,000 Catholics are expected to pack into Croke Park on the final day -- an event which will be watched by millions of TV viewers around the world.
The last papal visit to Ireland in 1979 saw more than a million people from all over Ireland gather in Dublin's Phoenix Park to hear the papal Mass.