Pope Francis' itinerary for visit to Ireland announced

Pope Francis will visit Ireland on the 25th and 26th of August as part of the World Meeting of Families.

His schedule includes a visit to the President at Áras an Uachtaráin, the Capuchin Day Centre, and the Pro-Cathedral on the 25th.

He will give a speech in Dublin Castle at midday and will host the feast of the families in Croke Park that night.

His Holiness will fly to Knock the following morning, where he will visit the Knock Shrine.

He will then return to Dublin to say mass at the Phoenix Park at 3pm. A farewell ceremony will be the last event in his itinerary, after which the Pope will depart for Rome.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has encouraged families to see Pope Francis during his visit, and he hopes that it will ''will open out for families renewed inspiration, hope and healing.''

''The visit of Pope Francis to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin must not be just a once off event,'' he said.

''It comes as the Church in Ireland struggles to find a new place in Irish society and culture - a very different one from the dominant one it held in the past.''

Archbishop Martin said victims and survivors of clerical abuse meeting the Pope are high on the list of priorities.

Speaking at the launch of the Pope's schedule in Maynooth, near Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: "The Pope will meet with various groups.

"In other visits across the world he has met with survivors. Generally speaking, he has met them quietly to respect their anonymity and we'd be looking at the way that can be done.

"There are a wide range of people who are survivors of institutions, of abuse by priests, and of mother and baby homes.

"We'd find a way which the Pope can address concerns of all of those people but we have many meetings.''

However, Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, expressed his disappointment that Pope Francis will not be travelling to Northern Ireland during his visit.

"We were really hoping this might be an opportunity and I think he really would love to come to Northern Ireland but I suppose the pressures of this particular event and all he wants to do for the World Meeting of the families has overtaken that,'' he said.

"I don't get any sense from those I have been speaking to that the Holy Father is ruling out the possibility of ever coming to Northern Ireland.''

Archbishop Eamon Martin also said child abuse is one of the "horrific realities" of the church in Ireland.

"It's been traumatic for anyone who has experienced that and that trauma has rippled through and destroyed so many people around them and their family life.

"I hope we will have a sense of direction in moving forward and how to reach out to those who are suffering in this way and in other ways in the church."

Almost 30,000 people have already registered to attend the Pastoral Programme at the World Meeting of Families.

6,000 of these are 18 years old and under and 103 countries are represented by attendees.

5,500 volunteers will be assisting over the two days, and people who wish to register or volunteer are encouraged to do so soon.

Up to 500,000 tickets are set to be made available for the closing mass in Phoenix Park.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to Ireland.

“This will be a significant visit by a global and spiritual leader to Ireland and is the first visit of a Pontiff here in almost 40 years,'' he said.

“This is also a hugely important opportunity to showcase Ireland as images of this visit will be viewed around the globe.”

Ireland West Airport in Kock said today they are ''delighted and honoured'' to welcome the Pope in August.

Joe Gilmore, Managing Director of Ireland West Airport said “It will be both an honour and a privilege to welcome Pope Francis in August for what will be a historic first papal visit to the airport.

''This will be a truly historic occasion and will showcase the airport, Knock Shrine and indeed the West of Ireland to a global audience of millions which will have a hugely positive impact for tourism to the region.''

- Digital Desk and PA

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