Republic of Ireland news

Pope will not visit north, Vatican expected to confirm

Pope Francis will arrive in Ireland for a two-day visit in August. Picture by Andrew Medichini, Associated Press
Paul Ainsworth

FURTHER details of the Pope's visit to Ireland this year are to be released today, with expected confirmation that the Pontiff will not cross the border into the north.

Despite speculation that Northern Ireland’s first Papal visit would take place this year, it was claimed in March that the north would not feature.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Dublin on August 25 and 26, when the city hosts the World Meeting of Families, which is held by the Catholic Church every three years.

It was suggested in December 2017 that a visit north could occur during the trip, and that the Pope could be joined by Queen Elizabeth.

However, all speculation on a northern jaunt is expected to end today with the schedule to be confirmed by the Vatican.

Pope Francis will attend two large events – the Festival of Families in Croke Park, and the closing mass of the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

This will be the first Papal visit to Ireland since 1979 when Pope John Paul said Mass in Phoenix Park to more than one million people. During that visit, the Pope travelled as far north as Drogheda, but security fears prevented his crossing the border to visit Armagh.

Pope Francis will attend the Festival of Families in Croke Park, Dublin

Speaking to the Irish News following speculation that the north might not feature on Pope Francis’ itinerary, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said: “I'm sure his advisers have their reasons but we've come a long distance in terms of peace and reconciliation. It would have been a great opportunity for us."

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