Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has predicted that a 2018 papal visit could see a “significant” gesture of reconciliation from Pope Francis.
Speaking at a press conference in Rome this week to launch the theme of the World Meeting of Families, Dr Martin said “I think that a visit to Northern Ireland, even a short visit, of a political nature, of an ecumenical nature…will be very important.
“Pope Francis has this tendency to make important gestures of reconciliation…And I suspect that when we start to talk about this trip, Pope Francis will surprise us all with some highly symbolic gesture,” the archbishop predicted. However, he stressed that any confirmation of a papal visit would only come several months before the planned event.
Meanwhile, the Vatican official responsible for the 2018 Dublin World Meeting of Families has predicted that up to 15,000 people may participate in the event.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family said he felt that somewhere between 10,000-15,000 people would participate when asked by a journalist at the Vatican press conference this week.
Archbishop Paglia said that for Pope Francis, families are the common thread that helps people, of all religions, overcome increasing individualism.