Pope Francis confirms he'll visit Ireland in 2018

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

The Pope has confirmed he will visit Ireland in 2018.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in the Vatican today where he invited Pope Francis to come to Ireland.

The last Pontiff to travel to Ireland was Pope John Paul II in 1979.

However it appears that lengthy gap will now be bridged with Pope Francis likely to travel here in 2018.

After arriving in the city state today, Mr Kenny wasted no time in issuing a formal invitation for Pope Francis to travel here.

Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala arrived at the Vatican shortly before 10am and were greeted by the Swiss Guard.

The meeting with the Pope lasted just under half an hour. It is understood the two men discussed a range of issues including migration.

As they left the meeting, Fionnuala said to the Pope: “Hopefully we’ll see you in Ireland”. The Taoiseach presented leader of the Catholic Church with a print of a stained glass window by Harry Clarke.  In return, the Fine Gael leader received an etching of St Peter’s Basilica.

Afterwards, Mr Kenny met with the Vatican Secretary of State.

It is widely expected the Pope will travel here for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018.

Last week, the Taoiseach insisted relations between Ireland and the Vatican were extremely healthy and he had regular conversations with many clergy.

This contrasts with a landmark speech about child abuse in Cloyne in July 2011, which was an unprecedented attack on “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism” at the Vatican.

Following this the Irish Vatican embassy was closed for two years, but reopened in 2014 after Pope Francis’s election.

Earlier this year Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said Irish bishops would like to include a trip to the North during any possible Irish visit by the Pope. Pope John Paull II did not visit the North 37 years ago for security reasons.

Since it was announced last  year that Dublin is the venue for the next World Meeting of Families, senior Vatican sources have said they are unable to confirm the presence of the Pope at an event.