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No update on whether Pope will visit Ireland for Congress

The secretary-general of the International Eucharistic Congress says the Pope was enthusiastic about the event, but that there is no indication about whether he’ll attend in person.

Pope Benedict XVI rings the bell of the International Eucharistic Congress, watched by (background) Fr Kevin Doran and Dr Diarmuid Martin.
Pope Benedict XVI rings the bell of the International Eucharistic Congress, watched by (background) Fr Kevin Doran and Dr Diarmuid Martin.
Image: L’Osservatore Romano Photographic Service

POPE BENEDICT XVI has yet to give any indication on whether he intended to visit the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin later this year, the secretary-general of the congress has said.

Fr Kevin Doran told that the pontiff did not make reference to any prospective visit when he met Doran and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the president of the Congress, in Rome this morning.

“I wouldn’t have any sense that anything in particular had changed in that regard,” Fr Doran said, suggesting that the current pontiff’s previous experiences would suggest that he would not attend the Dublin congress.

The only other previous congress to take place since Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy took place in Canada in 2008, when the Pope did not attend himself but sent a message and was represented by a papal legate.

Congress organisers had travelled to Rome to present the Pope with a bowl of shamrock to mark St Patrick’s Day, as well as to bring him a ceremonial bell which is being sent nationwide to promote the Congress, taking place in Dublin in June.

“The Archbishop explained a little bit about the significance of the bell,” Doran said, adding that Martin was able to converse with the German-born pontiff in fluent German. The Pope had “gave it a very strong ring,” he added.

“He took quite an interest in the bell in particularly in the icons… and how they represent the preparations that have been going on.

“He took quite an interest in one of them, in particular, which represents the word of God. He wrote an encyclical on the word of God last year, so it was an important theme for him.”

The government has previously indicated that if the Pope accepted the organisers’ offer to attend the Dublin congress, the 84-year-old Pope would be given a full diplomatic invitation to come to Ireland.

Doran said the pontiff was “an elderly man like any other man of his years,” but that when meeting him and seeing his face, it was possible to “see the light in his eyes… he’s very alert and very on the ball. His engagement with us was very lively.”

Read: Pope Benedict ‘vigorously rings bell’ to promote Eucharistic Congress >

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Gavan Reilly

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