Thursday 20 October 2016

Pope’s ‘great liking for Ireland’ adds to hopes for official visit in 2018

Pope Francis visits Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem (AP)
Pope Francis visits Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem (AP)

POPE Francis has told the Archbishop of Dublin that it is his idea to hold the World Meeting of Families in Ireland in 2018.

The pontiff’s remarks, along with his statement on his “great liking for Ireland”, will further fuel hopes that it will mark the first Irish visit by a pope in almost 40 years.

Dr Martin helped the pope celebrate mass in Philadelphia yesterday.

“I had been told that the pope had looked at the various requests [to host the World Meeting of Families] and a particular interest that he has in Ireland,” Archbishop Martin said.

“He said to me, ‘I made this decision. There were other countries interested in it but this is my idea’.

“The first thing he said was we’re giving you a lot of work you know but he sees this as something that’s very close to his own ideas. He has a great liking for Ireland and he has a concern for Ireland.”

Dr Martin was asked on RTE’s Morning Ireland what he meant by the pope’s “concern”.

“I think he is aware of the damage that was done by the child sexual abuse scandal. He has said that to me on occasion.

“He is aware of the fact that Irish society is changing. He talks about the social ethics of family, the place of family in society changing very much in western society in general and he’d be aware of what’s happening in Ireland.

“He doesn’t look on the family in terms of a whole series of negatives,” Dr Martin added.

“He looks on the family as something that’s the backbone of society. Where the family works, society is much stronger.

“I think because of the sex abuse scandals many, many parents lost their confidence in the church in this area - certainly some of the parents of victims that I’ve met.

“Many, many other people were scandalised by what happened – and rightly so – and I think this is an opportunity, over a period of time, to rebuild confidence of families in the Church.”

Dr Martin said that he believes Pope Francis would like to visit in 2018.


“I think he would. He did learn some English in Ireland and he remembers being in Ireland. It’s a long time ago but anytime he’s spoken to me he’s quite aware of what life is like in Ireland.”

Pope Frances, then a priest called Jorge Mario Bergoglio, spent some time at the Jesuit Centre in the Milltown Institute, Dublin in 1980,

During his three-month he attended daily classes and prayers at the centre.

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