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Pope ‘may still visit Ireland next year’ despite diplomatic tensions

Fr Julian Green: 'The possibility is always there that the Pope might attend' (Photo: CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI may still attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next year, an organiser has said.

Fr Julian Green, a national delegate who is working with representatives from each diocese to promote English and Welsh participation at the congress, also said it would be a chance to heal a wounded Church.

Fr Green said that the event would not be like the last one held in Dublin, in 1932, “with the triumphal presence of the Church in society”.

He said: “It will be one where the Eucharist as a source of reconciliation and healing will be expressed.”

Fr Green said that after the abuse crisis “we see a very wounded Church, people wounded by the problems, but nonetheless among the faithful there is an immense faith in the Eucharist”.

“As well as those who have been victimised, they have also been victims of abuse. But they cling to their faith in the Eucharist, which has been part of the Church’s history,” he said.

Fr Green, who helped to organise English and Welsh participation in previous congresses in Mexico in 2004 and Quebec in 2007, also said it was still unclear whether the Pope would attend.

The priest, who is incardinated in Birmingham archdiocese, said: “It will be announced beforehand whether the Pope will be there or not, but in the past the Pope has personally participated, except in the last two because of health and workload.

“The possibility is always there that the Pope might attend. We don’t know. The Irish Church doesn’t know. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy See doesn’t know yet whether that will be the case.

“Papal visits are often only announced a few months in advance. The organisers in Dublin have contingency plans if it happens, but are organising on the basis that it won’t happen.”

Last month Ireland’s foreign minister Eamon Gilmore said the government had not invited the Pope to visit next year and were not considering an invitation.

Fr Kevin Doran, the secretary-general of the International Eucharistic Congress, said it would be “a very diplomatically difficult situation” if Benedict XVI did visit.

The 50th International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Dublin from June 10 to 17 next year. Among the catechists and homilists announced so far are Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Seán Brady and Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.