The Vatican last week released dates for Pope Francis’s possible visit to Ireland to coincide with the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018.
The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, speaking at the Vatican, said he very much hoped Pope Francis would attend the conference in Ireland.
The event will take place between 22 and 26 August 2018 under the theme of The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.
Held every three years and sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) is the Catholic Church’s largest international gathering of families.
This year’s event took place in Philadelphia, US, last week, while the 2018 event will be held in Dublin.
The idea originated with Pope St John Paul II in 1992 as a way of strengthening the bonds of the traditional family unit around the world.
During a speech in Ireland, the pope said: “Modern conditions and social changes have created new patterns and new difficulties for family life and for Christian marriage.”
Dr Martin said: “The Pope has told me that it is his wish to be in Dublin but we all know that the Pope’s programme is defined in detail much closer to the event and many things can change.
Popes have gone to various world family days but at this point we’ll just have to wait and see.”
He stressed that the event will be an important one in itself however much people would hope for it to be blessed by a Papal visit.
Should such a visit happen, given that the Pope has attended six of the last eight world family days, Dr Martin said Irish bishops would then like the programme to include a visit to Northern Ireland.
Pope John Paul II did not visit Northern Ireland during his 1979 visit to Ireland.