Wednesday 22 November 2017

Pope Francis may visit Ireland in 2018

Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly (AP)
Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly (AP)

Sarah MacDonald

Speculation is mounting tonight that Pope Francis will visit Ireland after he announced that Dublin will host the next World Meeting of Families in 2018.

The Pontiff usually visits the host country of the gathering, which is one of the most high profile events for the global church.

He announced the venue at the conclusion of the outdoor Mass for one million people attending this year’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on Sunday evening.

Ahead of the ceremony, the Pontiff met Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, the prelate who will oversee this high profile event in Ireland, which is the world’s largest gathering of catholic families.

Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families. It has been described as a celebration of family life and of the Catholic Church’s commitment to support families.

In Philadelphia, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he hoped it would be an occasion to take up the programme of the Synod on the family in Rome which takes place next month.

“The family in Ireland is strong and the Church is called to take up the challenge of ensuring that future Catholic generations are prepared to live their marriage as an itinerary of faith,” Dr Martin said.

The first and only papal visit to Ireland took place in 1979, when Pope John Paul II visited places such as Dublin, Knock, Limerick, Drogheda and Galway.

The date and the programme of the 2018 Meeting  will be decided at a later stage in consultation with the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The 2018 World Meeting is expected to  extend to various parts of Ireland and given the size of the country, the event will take on different dimensions to that of the Philadelphia event which concluded tonight.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, welcomed announcement by Pope Francis.

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