Pope Francis has confirmed that he is to visit Ireland this August.
Speaking at his general audience today, the Pope stated that he will visit Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, being held in Dublin over August 21-26, culminating in a ‘Festival of Families’ and a closing Mass to be held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
The Pope will be attending the August 25 festival and will celebrate the closing Mass of the gathering of families, but further details of the trip have yet to be released.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has welcomed the announcement, saying that they are “deeply honoured that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges which face families”.
They added that they looked forward to hearing the guidance of the Pontiff during his stay in Ireland, which they said would doubtless be “an occasional of spiritual renewal for our laity, religious and clergy as well as a strengthening of Christian family life”.
The announcement was expected as reported by The Irish Catholic yesterday.
The announcement was made at the Pope’s weekly general audience, during which two Irish families presented the official World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF2018) ‘Icon of the Holy Family’ to the Pope. The Irish delegation was led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, President of WMOF2018, and Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of WMOF2018, with the icon being presented by the Tobin Family from Co. Kildare and the Bushell family who live in Rome.
This will be only the second ever papal trip to Ireland. St John Paul II visited the country in 1979, when he celebrated Mass with over 1 million people in the Phoenix Park.
Speculation about a papal visit began as Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families drew to a close in September 2015, when it was announced that Dublin would host the next Catholic global family gathering, described as a celebration of family life and of the Church’s commitment to supporting families.
The theme of the gathering will be ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’.
Popes had presided at all bar two of the eight meetings held since the first meeting in 1994, and following the announcement, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin formally invited the Pontiff to preside at the Vatican-sponsored event. In May 2016 the archbishop revealed that when he spoke to Pope Francis about visiting Ireland, the Pope had said “I will come,” adding, “if I don’t come, my successor will come”.
Although this visit will not be a formal State visit, the Government has confirmed its intention to treat it as one, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying that Pope Francis will be given full State support in terms of protocol, security, and other matters.
It is estimated that the visit will cost around €20 million, with church collections expected to provide around €5 million and the remaining €15 being generated through donations. Dr Martin has said that admission charges will not be in place for any events for children, so the gathering can be affordable for all.