Saturday 21 September 2019

Pope Francis will travel in Skoda car during historic visit to Ireland

It is less than two weeks to go until the visit of Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images
It is less than two weeks to go until the visit of Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Jane Last

Jane Last

POPE Francis will be driven around in a Skoda car while he is in Ireland.

Businesswoman Norah Casey – who is helping to raise €21m to fund the World Meeting of Families in Dublin later this month – confirmed the pontiff would be travelling in a Skoda.

Appearing as a panellist on RTÉ Radio One’s ‘Marian Finucane Show’ yesterday, Ms Casey said the car brand was providing vehicles for the World Meeting of Families.

“He’s driving a Skoda while he’s in Ireland. Travelling in it,” she said.

Host Brendan O’Connor – who was standing in for Marian Finucane – said the fact the Pope would be seen travelling in a Skoda would “probably be invaluable to them”.

The former Czech brand was incorporated into the Volkswagen umbrella two decades ago, and has become a ‘mid-market’ brand favoured by Irish families.

It is not known which type of Skoda model the pontiff will Pope Francis is said to eschew luxury and extravagance, and may shun top-of-the- range cars be travelling in – it could be the top-of-the-range Superb or Kodiaq models.

Or perhaps the Pope – a modest man who eschews luxury and extravagance – might opt for the Fabia or Citigo models.

Ms Casey also told the programme that they were seeking to raise €21m in sponsorship to cover the entire visit, which also includes a visit to Knock, Co Mayo, on Sunday, August 24.

She said the cost of staging the papal Mass in the Phoenix Park would come to €1m alone.

Ms Casey declined to say how much had been raised so far, but did reiterate that there was no State funding for the event.

Half a million people are expected to attend the mass in the Phoenix Park, which also features some 7,000 general volunteers, 3,000 papal volunteers in the choir, and another 2,000-plus assisting with the distribution of the Holy Communion.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has assumed responsibility for preparing the park and the thousands of volunteers.

The OPW says there will be “multiple food and drink stations” throughout the park, along with designated “rest zones”.

The World Meeting of Families team has warned those attending the Phoenix Park they can expect to walk up to 7km in the approach to the venue and in to the park itself.

Meanwhile, a ‘Sunday Independent’/Kantar Millward Brown poll has found strong public support for former President Mary McAleese’s recent criticism of the Catholic Church.

The poll, which was conducted between July 23 and August 6 among a representative sample of 875 adults at 64 sampling points nationwide, found 55pc support her view that the Church does not treat women equally.

Some 15pc were not in agreement, another 15pc said “it depends”, and the final 15pc said they did not know.

Some 67pc believed priests should be allowed to marry, with just 15pc opposed.

On the question of whether women should be allowed to be ordained as priests, 62pc were in favour, with 18pc against.

The poll said opposition to the Church’s principles was found to be stronger in women and younger people, particularly those living in Dublin.

Of those surveyed, fewer than one in five said they would be attending a ceremony in connection to the Pope’s visit, while 64pc say they will not. However, more than half will watch ceremonies online, or follow the event live on TV or radio.

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