Pope visit could ‘highlight modern Ireland to the world’

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The Pope’s visit to the country next month will be an opportunity to ‘highlight modern Ireland to the world’.

That is the view of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who has had his say on the first Papal visit since Pope John Paul II nearly four decades ago.

Pope Francis will say mass in front of half a million people in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. He will be in Ireland as part of the Meeting of the Five Families.

Pope Francis's visit gives an opportunity to 'highlight modern Ireland to the world'

He will also take part in a ceremony at Croke Park.

Archbishop Martin said: “In September 1979, Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to Ireland. And by any standards, it was a historic visit. The Papal visit has become legendary in Ireland.

“The expectation of Pope Francis’ visit vary. There is enthusiasm, as seen within the days of opening registration, the booking of all events for Pope Francis’ visit were (booked) out.

“Very large numbers will come from abroad. This event will be a showcase, a way to highlight modern Ireland to the world. This is a great opportunity.”

He added that while members of the public would always be happy to see the Pope, Pope Francis has an extra special appeal.

He said: “Many will come out to see any Pope that is coming to Ireland. For others, Pope Francis has a special appeal.

“Pope Francis, who is over 80, appears as a modern Pope.

“One of the great attractions of Pope Francis is how he himself shows how the role of Pope can be unique in bringing the Christian message into our complex world.

“He shows us that he can live in a world where faith seems marginal and yet manages to touch hearts.

“He finds ways in which he can win hearts for what the teaching of Jesus involves, not through imposing and judging, but through winning and attracting.

“That is his real talent.”

Father Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of the World Meeting of Families said: “Part of the tradition of the festival of families is that five families from across the world are chosen to present to the Holy Father the realities, the joys, the challenges of family life today.

“We have a family from India, for example, who will talk about the impact of technology on family life today to the Pope.

“So they will come up onto that circle [of encounter space], they will speak to him, and there will be a short video following them back in their home in India where they talk about the impact of phones and the good things that flow from technology and also some of the distractions of family life.”

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling