TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is expected to miss the inauguration of Pope Francis. He and Eamon Gilmore will be in the White House for the annual St Patrick's visit.
With the Pope's inauguration due to take place around the same time, the Government will be represented by Finance Minister Michael Noonan. President Michael D Higgins will also attend on behalf of the State.
Mr Kenny sent his congratulations to Pope Francis, saying: "The scenes of celebration in St Peter's Square are a reflection of the great hopes and best wishes of people of the Catholic faith all around the world have for the new Pope.
"The decision of the conclave in choosing the first Pope from the Americas is of particular significance as a symbolic expression of the global nature of the Catholic Church and of the 21st Century world."
In anticipation of the inauguration, Mr Higgins was given permission by the Cabinet to leave the country to go to the Vatican.
He also conveyed his best wishes to the new head of the Catholic Church, saying: "Despite the pressures and distractions of a more complex world, people all over the globe still yearn for a sense of spiritual meaning to their lives."
US President Barack Obama greeted the pope’s appointment Pope and said the selection speaks to the strength and vitality of the Americas.