Taoiseach invites Pope to Ireland

02 May 2014

PA

In Rome: the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, meets Pope Francis on Sunday

In Rome: the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, meets Pope Francis on Sunday

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 of closure.

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."

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