Villiers backs Pope visit to Belfast

Published Wednesday, 02 April 2014
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Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has given her backing for a Papal visit to Belfast.

Villiers backs Pope visit to Belfast
Pope Francis visits Rome''s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. (© L'Osservatore Romano)

It comes after councillors voted in favour of a motion inviting Pope Francis to the city.

Ms Villiers was asked by about the possibility of a visit during Northern Ireland questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Lady Sylvia Hermon MP said: "Do you believe that, in fact, the security situation and indeed the political situation in Northern Ireland are conducive to a papal visit any time soon?"

Ms Villiers replied: "The papal visit to London was extremely successful.

"I have every confidence that the security situation would mean that a papal visit to Northern Ireland would be entirely possible. And I believe - it's obviously a matter for the Executive whether such an invitation is extended - but I think it would a very positive step if the Pope were to visit NI."

Belfast City Council on Tuesday night debated the motion asking the pontiff to come to the city if he ever visits the Republic of Ireland.

It was passed with 30 councillors voting in favour, none against. Every unionist councillor abstained.

© UTV News
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17 Comments
Jos in Belfast wrote (149 days ago):
Typical answer from our man Norman in Bangor.
Sandra in New York wrote (149 days ago):
Norman The country is NOT broke because of visiting dignitaries The biggest waste of N Ireland money is in parades, rioting and welfare fraud.
Catholic Unionist in Coleraine wrote (149 days ago):
I would be delighted if the Holy Father visited the province. However it's time for people to realise that religion and politics are separate. The former is a moral guide, worship of the supernatural and is life itself while the other is a secular concept that involves impossibly representing your electorate and changing moral standpoints to get votes. I'm a practicing Catholic and I also support the Union. I have a particular contempt for the actions of any organisation who supported violence in the past or who would endorse the amoral actions of any individual and then claim that it's "human rights". I don't name any individuals although it's fair to say that certain political leaders claim to be Catholic but certainly aren't because that would mean rejecting sin. Happy to welcome Christ's representative on Earth as long as he's met by church people and not political hypocrites.
bob in belfast wrote (149 days ago):
Martin McGuinness was man enough to shake the Queen's hand. As a Catholic, I want Peter Robinson to show the same respect to the Pope. The ball's in your court, Peter.
culchy in the stix wrote (150 days ago):
@Gak in Newcastle, the largest religion on earth is Christianity, not Catholicism, which accounts for just over half of all Christian denominations. And the Pope has already been invited to Ireland, it's just a question now if he wants to pop up north for a bit of pontificating to his fans here. However I can see the Orange Order/DUP objecting, as is their wont.
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