No papal visit until after the 2016 general election

Holy See reluctant to give pre-election opportunity

A potential visit to Ireland by Pope Francis will not take place until after the next general election The Irish Catholic understands.

Well-placed sources in Rome confirmed that while a visit to Ireland – North and South – is under active consideration, a visit would be likely to take place in the autumn on 2016, well after the general election in the South.

It is understood that the Holy See is reluctant to give Taoiseach Enda Kenny an opportunity that he could use for pre-election purposes to court the Catholic vote.

However, growing tensions between the Fine Gael and Labour coalition partners could lead to an earlier general election meaning that a visit by the Pope could take place sooner.

Another consideration is the Pope’s perceived weakness in speaking English which would make communication difficult and would limit the public-speaking parts of his engagements in Ireland.

It is understood that a papal visit by Francis (77) would be shorter and less intense than the 59-year-old Polish Pontiff’s 1979 trip.


However, there would be at least on engagement in both jurisdictions with the Holy See acutely aware of importance such a visit would have in boosting the peace process.

Last week Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil that “the Government would hope that were Pope Francis to visit Ireland, he would also take the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland”.