Pope Francis yesterday confirmed to the Taoiseach he will visit Ireland in August 2018, after the two held a 30-minute private meeting in the Apostolic Palace.
After arriving with an Irish delegation, including his wife Fionnuala, he held a private meeting with Pope Francis, discussing issues from Brexit to unemployment and Church-State relations.
Mr Kenny outlined past concerns relating to clerical sex abuse.
“I explained to him my own difficulties with the Church some years ago and I was happy to confirm to him that Church-State relations are in a better shape than they were for very many years,” he said.
Mr Kenny said there were more “safeguards” now.
During separate private talks with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Mr Kenny discussed the citizens’ assembly examining Ireland’s abortion laws.
On whether the Pope’s visit in August 2018 would coincide with an abortion referendum, Mr Kenny said there are no votes in August.
Mr Kenny and Cardinal Parolin also briefly discussed Ireland’s yes vote on marriage equality last year. The cardinal faced criticism then when he declared the vote a “defeat for humanity”.
Mr Kenny said he told the cardinal he was “entitled” to his views, but on the yes vote, added: “I think that’s a signal around the world that, about the nature of population now, the way they feel about it, the happiness that surrounded that decision and the fact that it allowed so many people who lived in limbo or shadows to now play their full part in society. He [the cardinal] understands that very clearly and accepts that utterly.”
The itinerary for the pontiff’s visit has yet to be fixed . Citing Pope John Paul’s visit which was curtailed by the Troubles he added: “If it transpires that the Pope wants to go to Northern Ireland for a visit that we will cooperate and work with the executive.”
Leaders in the North last night called for the Pope to visit there during his visit.