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Pope Francis' 2018 visit to Ireland will be a 'great gift' - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

An official invitation was extended to the Pope this morning by the Taoiseach.

Updated 5.16pm

Vatican Narcotics Conference Pope Francis Source: AP/Press Association Images

IT HAS BEEN confirmed that Pope Francis is to visit Ireland in 2018.

The news comes after an official invitation was extended to the Pope by Taoiseach Enda Kenny after a meeting between the pair in the Vatican this morning.

Kenny had just held a half hour long meeting with the Pontiff. The Taoiseach now says that the Pope will visit Ireland in two years time.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops had previously extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country in August 2018 for the World Meeting of Families.

The Pope had acknowledged that invitation and said he would give the matter “careful consideration”.

The World Meeting of Families is an event organised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and seeks to “strengthen the sacred bonds of the family unit across the globe.”

It will be held for three days in Dublin from 22 to 26 August 2018.

The meeting was first held in Rome in 1994 and has been held every three years since.

In a statement this afternoon, the Archdiocese of Dublin said that preparations are already underway for the meeting and that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is “very pleased” that the Pope will be attending.

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Archbishop Martin described Pope Francis’ visit as “an important gift” to the Catholic Church both globally and in Ireland.

The visit will be the first by a sitting Pope since John Paul II visited these shores in late 1979.

On that occasion the visit drew huge crowds wherever the Pope went across the country, most notably in the Phoenix Park where 1.25 million people saw him celebrate Mass on Saturday, 29 September 1979.

“It’s a very different kind of situation from that in 1979 (when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland), but then he’s a very different kind of man,” the Taoiseach previously said with regard to the prospect of a visit by Pope Francis.

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