Pope visit to NI 'in near future'

Published Monday, 02 July 2012
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Speculation is mounting that the Pope will soon visit Northern Ireland.

Pope visit to NI 'in near future'
Pope Benedict XVI. (© Getty)

If it happens it will mark the first time the pontiff has come to the north and only the second time to the Republic of Ireland.

Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic said a visit could take place in the near future.

"I do expect it to be in the near future, whether it's next year or not that might be too soon," Mr Kelly told UTV.

"But I certainly do think over the next couple of years you will see a visit concentrating primarily on Northern Ireland but also taking in stops in the Republic."

The late Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979 - however plans to cross the border had to be scrapped amid an upsurge in violence.

Pope Benedict visited Britain in 2010 but again there was no stop in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kelly believes the likelihood of a visit now is greater in the context of the Queen's historic trip to the Republic last year and to NI this year.

It would also follow the Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Dublin last month.

He continued: "It is very plausible that the Pope will come and this is something the Vatican has wanted frankly since Pope Benedict was elected.

"They will see it as part of a process linked to the Pope's visit to Britain and the Queen's visit to the Republic last year and to NI this year.

"It is definitely on the cards and they would be keen it happens sooner rather than later, obviously given the Pope is going to be 86 in the early part of next year so his health is declining, so it's something that would be done sooner rather than later."

Mr Kelly also said the victims of clerical abuse would have to be recognised as a part of any future visit to Ireland.

He continued: "I think that's something that he would have to do in a visit to Ireland. That would be one element of a visit.

"I think another important element would have to be the sense of transformation that has been going on in the north in recent years, of putting aside the historical baggage.

"It could be a healing and transformative moment if handled properly."

© UTV News
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13 Comments
Aodhan in Belfast wrote (749 days ago):
I am in my teenage years and I for one cannot wait until the visit of our Holy Leader, Nationalists/Republicans have come on leaps and bounds to welcome The Queen time to see if Loyalists/Unionists can do the same.
seamas in belfast wrote (749 days ago):
Oh dear. It seems that any mention of the Pope brings out all the usual bigots with their pretend sympathy for poor catholic children who suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church. The same bigots couldn’t care less about catholic school children being murdered by the British Army though. They didn’t speak out when loyalist thugs were throwing bottles of urine and dog faeces at four year school children up at Holy Cross. Screaming vile sectarian and sexual abuse and waving pornographic images at toddlers. Where was the concern and sympathy then? Where was the condemnation? Eh Bob?
Iain in Belfast wrote (750 days ago):
Nuala, I wasn't aware the queen and the pope were having some sort of popularity contest! Maybe we should get a panel of celebrity judges to rate them or just ask the audience to phone in the votes. "Regardless of clerical abuse"? Dear oh dear.
Nuala McCorry in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
I CANNOT wait until my Pope "el papa" comes to Northern Ireland. This will be an unbelievable visit and one i will NOT miss out on. Across the world the pope draws many, many thousands of people. The queen of England on her recent visit to Belfast only managed a mere 20,00. When the Pope comes to visit you will see an over whelming crowd of faithfully Catholics out to support their Pope and wish him well. Despite what the media say the Catholic church regardless of the clerical abuse of the past is truly alive and well and numbers in my church are certainly NOT dwilndling. And I am a young woman of 35 and embrace my faith totally. The clerical abuse that has gone on was unimaginable but can i add that it was a very small number of priests involved compared to the thousands of good and faithful priests that we have in this country. God Bless our Pope and our Church
Vee in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
norman.d in bangor Why don't you buy a dictionary or learn to spell?
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