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Papal visit urged as embassy re-opened

POPE Francis should be formally invited by the State to visit Ireland after the Government announced that it is re-opening the Irish embassy at the Vatican, politicians have said.

The Holy See in Rome was announced as one of five new embassies to be set up this year, including missions in Bangkok, Jakarta, Zagreb and Nairobi.

Both political and Church officials yesterday welcomed the announcement by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore that the Government will open a scaled-down version of the embassy after closing it more than two years ago for cost reasons.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames said she believes there would be a lot of public support to invite the pontiff here following the re-establishment of the Irish embassy in Rome.

Sen Healy Eames said the re-opening of the embassy at the Vatican is an opportune time to extend the invitation.

And she believes Pope Francis would be warmly welcomed here, noting "this new Pope is an enlightened man and he's really connecting with people.

"The Church has let a lot of people down and there is a need for renewal," she told the Herald. "It would be quite fitting."

Ms Eames, who recently joined the Reform Alliance, seconded a motion in the Seanad last month when Senator David Norris proposed inviting Pope Francis here.


The decision to close the embassy in November 2011 was seen by some as a snub to the Catholic Church after the publication of damning reports of its mishandling of clerical abuse.

Cardinal Sean Brady said the decision "reflects positively on the process of Church-State structured dialogue", noting that relations between two bodies continued even when the embassy was closed.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the re-opening would enhance relations with the Vatican.