Belfast invite proposal for Pope Francis

Published Wednesday, 26 March 2014
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Pope Francis is set to be invited to Belfast, it has been revealed.

Belfast invite proposal for Pope Francis
Pope Francis visits Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in March 2013. (© L'Osservatore Romano)

Councillors are expected to debate a motion asking the pontiff to come to the city if he ever visits the Republic of Ireland.

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy, who tabled the proposal ahead of next week's meeting at Belfast City Hall, said it could help send out a positive message.

He said: "A papal visit to Belfast, endorsed by everyone, would send out a strong message to the rest of the world about how we are progressing, especially after the failure of the Haass talks."

Mr McCarthy wants the Stormont Assembly to extend a similar invitation.

The only papal visit to Ireland was in September 1979 when more than a million people turned out to see Pope John Paul II in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

A planned visit to Armagh was cancelled by the Vatican after the IRA murdered the Queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten, and ambushed 18 soldiers a month earlier.

"Times have changed," added Mr McCarthy. "I would love to see the pope in Belfast if he comes to Ireland."

Last month, the Irish senate unanimously agreed to formally invite Pope Francis to Ireland.

Independent senator David Norris said an official state visit by the head of the Holy See would "lift the spirits" of the country.

Mr McCarthy said: "This could be the last chance for many people, myself included, to see a pope in Ireland."

The motion is to be debated at the monthly meeting of Belfast City Council on Tuesday.

It reads: "This council notes that the Irish Seanad, on February 19, unanimously passed a motion by senator David Norris, inviting Pope Francis to visit Ireland.

"Should the Holy Father accept that invitation, this council invites him, as a man of faith, peace and reconciliation, to visit the city of Belfast and calls upon the Northern Ireland Assembly to extend a similar invitation."

Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, became the first Latin American pope when he was elected in March 2013 to represent the world's 1.2bn-strong Catholic Church.

During his inaugural sermon, the Argentinian called on world leaders to respect the "beauty of the created world" and protect the weakest in society.

He said: "Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill - let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment."

The 266th pope also paid tribute to his "venerable predecessor", Benedict XVI, and he also quoted from Pope John Paul II.

On the first morning of his ministry, Pope Francis sent a personal message to the people of Ireland.

© UTV News
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42 Comments
Michael in Belfast wrote (267 days ago):
A lot of people saying "Will he meet victims" etc. Tell me, when did the head of the UK state meet any victims? They're all the same, say sorry and move on. I take it would be pointless trying to explain to the finger pointers the incredible emotional turmoil it would stir up, and how unworkable it would be? Not that I'm saying this is right, it's just the way it is, try and keep some perspective. The difference, I will wager, is that the Pope would reiterate his apology in his address, I feel that Cameron would run a mile if someone brought up collusion/bloody Sunday while he was here.
seanie in belfast wrote (268 days ago):
never anything constructive Michael
Ballymacarret in Ballymacarret wrote (268 days ago):
Michael in templepatrick, may i correct you in saying that Queen Elizabeth II isnt just the queen of england but she is the queen of England Scotland wales and NORTHERN IRELAND long may she reign
J,Allen in Omagh wrote (268 days ago):
JIM ROGERS SAID POPE IS ONLY HEAD OF A CHURCH. YES JIM HE IS ALSO HEAD OF STATE
lorna in limavady wrote (269 days ago):
I hope he has wise words and people listen .Not just talk to the converted but the man on the street. unlike Clinton. Obama. It would be sad if he comes and goes back and we are in the same situation as before. Jos Belfast why would Mike have to ask the Orange Order anything. Mike is a untionist leader nothing to do with the Orange Order.It is time for change. Pope Francis can make that change. I hope.
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