By Sean Ryan - 29 May, 2016
Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick has added his voice to those who have said they would welcome a visit by the Pope Francis to Ireland as part of the World Meeting of Families in 2018.
Speaking this week to the Limerick Leader newspaper, Bishop Leahy said it would be “a huge boost to the Church here and at a vital time.”
Plans are underway to bring the Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018, provided he remains in good health.
The Vatican confirmed that the World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin from 22 to 26 August 2018 and there is speculation that the Pope will attend.
“We are, of course, very excited about the prospect of the Pope visiting Ireland and are awaiting word on this. It would be a huge boost to the Church here and at a vital time. It would be fantastic for the faithful as well as enabling us reconnect and newly connect with so many people,” Bishop Leahy said.
The World Meeting of Families is the largest universal gathering of Catholic families from all over the world.
It is held every three years in a different country, after being started in 1994 as an initiative of the late Pope John Paul II.
“That’s one of the largest global Church events and will bring thousands to Ireland,” Bishop Leahy explained.
“It’s a huge event and preparation is already very much under way and this weekend we are actually taking up a collection for it at churches around the diocese,” he added.
While there are hopes locally that Pope Francis will follow in Pope John Paul II’s footsteps and visit Limerick, according to Bishop Leahy “it’s highly unlikely he will take on the type of itinerary that his predecessor did”.
“Many people are, of course, asking the question here in the diocese will he come to Limerick as part of a visit to Ireland. Saint John Paul II was 59 when he came to Ireland whereas Pope Francis will be almost 82, so it’s highly unlikely he will take on the type of itinerary that his predecessor did.”
“The key thing is that he comes to Ireland and if he does, the nation as a whole benefits, including Limerick.”
The Dublin event in August of 2018 will feature the theme, ‘the Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’.