Saturday 22 November 2014

Taoiseach issues invite to Pope Francis to visit Ireland

By Lise Hand in Rome

Published 27/04/2014 | 14:58

Mr Kenny made the announcement today after he met with the pontiff after the double canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square.

 "I invited him to Ireland, and while it's not an official responsibility of the Government, I did say that if the Church authorities extended an invitation and he's willing to travel, the Government will see to it that everything is done to make that visit a real success."

He added: "It would be my hope that if it does happen, that the Pope would travel to Northern Ireland as well, given the changed events in politics where you've had the circle of history closed, as Her Majesty referred to, with her visit a few years ago, and Uachtaran Higgins' visit to Britain in the last few weeks. The events warrant to be built upon".

When asked if the pontiff had reacted to his invitation, Mr Kenny said, "Well, I wouldn't say that his eyes lit up, but he did of course recognise the country I was speaking about, and the invitation is extended officially through the church authorities.

Pope Francis makes saints of John XXIII and John Paul II in an historic day in Rome  

The Taoiseach also revealed that Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will be bringing the name of a new ambassador to the Holy See to the Cabinet meeting this week. "I expect the Tanaiste to bring a name to Cabinet on Wednesday for appointment as ambassador to the Holy See," he said.

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 27:  Pope Francis leads the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and across the World are to attend the canonisations.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Pope Francis leads the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
The relics of John Paul II and John XXIII stand during the canonisation in which John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis leads the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Priests arrive in Saint Peter's Square to give communion to pilgrims after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Priests arrive in Saint Peter's Square to give communion to pilgrims after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and from around the world attended the canonisations in the Vatican.
Pope Francis, waves to pilgrims gathered in St Peters Square, following the Canonisation Mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis greets Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Pilgrims gather in Saint Peter's Square for a ceremony in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pilgrims gather in Saint Peter's Square for a ceremony in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Holy Communion is given after the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and across the World are to attend the canonisations.
Bishops attend the canonisation mass of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on St Peter's on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis leads the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis leads the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pilgrims take communion in Saint Peter's Square after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis drives through St Peters Square in the popemobile to meet the crowd after the canonisation mass
Pilgrims take communion in Saint Peter's Square after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (R) and his wife Clio (2ndR) take their seats next to Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and his wife Anna Komorowska (2ndL) attend the canonisation mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis stands on the popemobil surrounded by bodyguards as he waves to pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
A general view of the atmosphere in St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis leads the Canonization Mass in which John Paul II and John XXIII are to be declared saints on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and from around the world attended the canonisations in the Vatican.
Priests give communion to pilgrims in St Peter's Square after the canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.

The decision to close the Vatican embassy in November 2011 caused controversy, and as recently as last September the Tanaiste stated there were "no plans" to re-open it. However today the Taoiseach denied that the reversal of this decision was sending out "a mixed signal on the Government's stance towards the Catholic Church.

"Quite a number of people in Ireland have been complimentary about that decision. That's not a mixed signal, it's very clear and decisive. The decision made in the beginning was based strictly on economics because there was a vacancy here in the Vatican."

Speaking alongside Cardinal Sean Brady at the Irish College in Rome, Mr Kenny described the double canonisation of the popes as "an extraordinary event and I was happy to be here on behalf of the Irish people".

Pope Francis makes saints of John XXIII and John Paul II in an historic day in Rome  

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