THE prospect of a papal visit to Northern Ireland was raised at
the weekend, when the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, Enda
Kenny, met Pope Francis after the canonisations of St John XXIII
and St John Paul II.
Mr Kenny's suggestion came after the announcement that the Irish
Republic is to reopen its embassy in the Vatican, after three years
While the withdrawal of the Irish ambassador in late 2011 was
put down to economic circumstances (News, 11 November 2011), it
came against a backdrop of recrimination and anger in the Irish
State, after government accusations that the Holy See had failed to
co-operate with, and even impeded, investigations at judicial level
of allegations of child-sex abuse by priests.
Mr Kenny confirmed on Sunday that he had told Pope Francis that
the Irish government would make every effort to facilitate a
successful visit by the Pope to Ireland.
"I can't say that his eyes lit up," he said, "but he did
recognise the country I was speaking about - and it is my hope that
the Pope would travel to Northern Ireland as well, given the
changed events in politics, where the circle of history has closed
following the Queen's visit to Ireland, and the recent visit to
England by President Higgins."