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'Mary McAleese's Modern Family' and 'The John Pauls': RTÉ's papal lineup

The state broadcaster has unveiled how it’ll mark Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin taking part in the Gay Pride Parade in Dublin in June.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin taking part in the Gay Pride Parade in Dublin in June.
Image: Sam Boal

RTÉ HAS RELEASED information about how it will mark Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland later this month.

The state broadcaster will air live coverage of the visit on Saturday 25 August and Sunday 26 August across its TV, radio and online platforms.

On RTÉ One there will be live rolling coverage of the public events, including the pope’s visit to Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin Castle, St Mary’s Pro Cathedral and the Capuchin Day Centre, on Saturday.

Live coverage of the Festival of Families event on Saturday evening at Croke Park will be broadcast on RTÉ2.

On Sunday, live coverage on RTÉ One and RTÉ News Now will include the pope’s visit to Knock and the papal Mass in the Phoenix Park.

The broadcaster is also planning to show a number of feature programmes, including:

  • Mary McAleese’s Modern Family (RTÉ One, 22 August), where the former president charts changes in the Irish family since the last papal visit and concludes that there’s a lot the Catholic Church could learn from our families
  • A special edition of Prime Time (RTÉ One, 23 August) will discuss the condition and future of the Catholic Church in Ireland
  • The John Pauls (RTÉ One, 10 September) catches up with the generation of Irish boys (and at least one girl) who were named after Pope John Paul II after his 1979 visit
  • Nationwide will feature three special programmes during the week of the pope’s visit

McAleese is Catholic but has described the Church’s teachings on gay people as “evil”. Her son Justin is gay and they both campaigned in favour of same-sex marriage ahead of the 2015 referendum.

The Canon lawyer was banned by the Vatican from speaking at a conference due to be held in the Holy See earlier this year, a move put down to her stance on LGBT+ issues.

She has also called the Church an “empire of misogyny” and said women should be able to become priests.

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Órla Ryan

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