Pope confirms he will visit Ireland in 2018

Following a meeting with the Pontiff in the Vatican this morning, Enda Kenny has announced that Pope Francis has confirmed he will travel to Ireland in August 2018.

The Taoiseach was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife Fionnuala, Irish Ambassador to the Holy See Emma Madigan, Mr Kenny’s Chief of Staff Mark Kennelly and other officials.

The meeting took place in the Papal Library in the Apostolic Palace.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Kenny said

“I want to say that the Pope has confirmed that he is coming to Ireland for the World Meeting of the Family, a fact that I appreciate very much, arising from the invitation of the Irish Bishops.

“I explained to him…the government will make the appropriate arrangements for him…”

“We discussed what he might do and obviously that is a matter for His Holiness and the bishops and if that means that he also travels to Northern Ireland, then we will co-operate and assist in whatever arrangements are arrived at…”

Mr Kenny also said that the Church-State relations in Ireland were “in better shape now than for very many years”.

After his meeting with the Pope, the Taoiseach met Vatican Prime Minister Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Cardinal Paul Gallagher.

Afterwards, Mr Kenny presented Pope Francis with a print of artist Harry Clarke’s stained glass window of the nativity scene.

The Taoiseach received a framed etching of St Peter’s Basilica as it was originally designed.