Monday 25 June 2018

Pope Francis confirms he will make first papal visit to Ireland in nearly 40 years

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attend the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attend the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis attends the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis speaks with Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin before the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis (EMPICS/PA)

Philip Pullella and Robin Schiller

Pope Francis has confirmed he will make the first papal trip to Ireland in nearly 40 years, visiting Dublin on August 25-26 for a Church meeting on families.

The World Meeting of Families is taking place in Dublin August 21-26. The Pope (81) will preside at the closing ceremonies on the final two days.

He will take part in the ‘Festival of Families’ in Croke Park on August 25 and the following day he will celebrate mass in the Phoenix Park.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has welcomed the news today and said they are "deeply honoured" that the pontiff has chosen to come to Dublin.

“We are deeply honoured that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges which face families," the bishops said in a statement.

"With great anticipation we also look forward to hearing the apostolic guidance of His Holiness during his stay with us.”

Full details of the Pope's visit will be released at a later date.

Today in Rome two Irish families - the Tobin family are from Co Kildare and the Bushell family who live in Rome -  were selected to present the official World Meeting of Families 2018 ‘Icon of the Holy Family’ to Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, in a delegation led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

There had been speculation that the pope would also visit Northern Ireland, whose leaders had floated the idea of a papal visit.

But the pope, who announced the visit to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience, said his visit would be limited to the Irish capital.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has welcomed the announcement by Pope Francis of his plans to visit Ireland.

"On behalf of the Government I welcome the announcement by Pope Francis of his intention to come to Ireland in August for the World Meeting of Families. I look forward to meeting him during his visit,” he said.

His statement added that while it is not a formal State Visit, it will be a major event for Ireland, with a high degree of public participation and a high international profile.

Pope Francis is expected to visit one of Dublin's main homeless services during his visit to the capital later this year.

Independent.ie has learned that Pope Francis is planning to visit the Capuchin Day Centre when he travels to Ireland.

Representatives of the Pope arrived at the homeless service on Bow Street on Monday, with plans being drawn up to facilitate the Pontiff's visits.

It is expected that the Pope will meet with homeless people and those in need who use the centre on a daily basis when he visits.

Brother Kevin Crowley, who founded the Capuchin Centre in 1969, said that the Pope's visit would be for the homeless people who use the facility every day.

Brother Kevin also stressed that the visit had not yet been confirmed, but added that arrangements to facilitate the Pope's attendance at the north-inner city are ongoing.

"A group from Rome were here on Monday making arrangements for the Pope so I presume it will go ahead. Nothing has been confirmed yet but it is on the cards.

"It would be a fantastic honour, and would be great for the homeless people who use the centre to meet him. That's what it's all about, the people here who use the centre," Brother Kevin said.

The Capuchin Day Centre provides over 700 meals everyday and over 1500 food parcels each Wednesday to the homeless and poor of Dublin.

Arrangements for the Pope's visit to the Capuchin Day Centre are being made at a time that Focus Ireland are reporting record figures of homeless people.

The most recent figures available from the end of February show that there are over 9,000 adults and children homeless across the country, while 109 families with 218 children became newly homeless in January of this year.

More to follow...

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