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Visit by Pope Francis is now a step closer

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Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli

Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli

Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli

A VISIT by the Pope to Ireland has moved a step closer following comments by Cardinal Sean Brady, sources have told the Herald.

Mr Brady expressed a desire for the Pontiff to meet the Irish people as Ireland reopened its embassy in the Vatican.

"I hope and pray that Pope Francis will come to Ireland at some stage," said Mr Brady.

His statement is seen as a significant move in extending an invitation to the head of the Vatican state, because of the protocol surrounding such an event.

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, which Mr Brady heads, is seen to have the capacity to invite the Pope to Ireland as a religious leader.

This move is then followed up by government with diplomatic discussions, before an official invitation is extended.

An informed source also stated "that this type of activity is carried out on the basis of positive indications emerging all around", but they said that an invite would only be extended if the answer was "known in advance".

The details of any visit would be discussed by diplomats at the embassies in the Vatican and then the Irish State would make the official invitation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was asked whether diplomatic discussions had occurred at the newly-reopened embassy in the Vatican, but had made no response last night.

President Higgins, as head of the Irish State, would invite Pope Francis as the head of the Holy See.

It has been noted that Mr Higgins has quoted the Pope in some of his addresses and therefore it is understood that he is held in good standing in the Aras.

However, when asked by the Herald if any high level discussions had taken place the President's office said they weren't commenting.

The Taoiseach's office was also asked about arrangements for the papal visit but made no comment.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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