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Pope Newry visit unlikely

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

BISHOP John McAreavey admitted he would "love it" if Pope Francis included a Newry visit during his 2018 tour of Ireland.

However, he did admit that it is much more likely the Pontiff would visit Armagh Cathedral, given the city's ecclesiastical status.

Pope Francis confirmed last week to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, that he would be visiting Ireland in August 2018, the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II in 1979.

While a visit to Armagh is yet to be confirmed by the Vatican, it is widely expected that the Pope will tour Northern Ireland partly because Pope John Paul II did not due to security fears, according to Bishop McAreavey.

“I suppose any Pope coming to Ireland wants to be able to contribute to the peace process and reconciliation, certainly the northern Bishops will be making a very strong case for the Pope to come to the north," said Bishop McAreavey.

“The Pope is his own man when it comes to what he's going to do and how he's going to do it and he's original as well, he doesn't always do the obvious thing but I think he will want to do something to catch the imagination and also speak to both communities.

“Whatever the Pope does I think we would want it to be done in a way that all churches would feel honoured by, blessed by and encouraged by. We want it to be gain for everybody."

Bishop McAreavey is hoping the papal visit will inspire young people to connect with their Christianity, especially because this will be the first tour of any Pope since John Paul II.

“My biggest hope is particularly for our young people, all young people in the north. The idea of a Pope visit is totally new because it has been 40 years since Pope John Paul came," added Bishop McAreavey.

“My hope is that an event like this will help people connect with their own faith and their own religious practice, but actually be something that will help the reconnect in a stable and permanent way with their own faith."

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