Pope Francis will visit Ireland in August 2018, the Taoiseach confirmed this morning (Monday).
Enda Kenny broke the news to reporters in Dublin.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he believed the Pope would cross the border and visit Northern Ireland.
There has been calls for
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is expected to engage with the Catholic Church to ensure that any visit would include Armagh on the itinerary.
In 2014, a proposal was passed, when it was agreed that the former Armagh City and District Council would extend an invitation to Pope Francis to visit the city, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, if he visits in the future.
Councillor O’Hanlon welcomed the news saying it will be an “historic day for Ireland and I hope an even more historic day for the City of Armagh”.
“Back in 1979 the then Pope John Paull visited Ireland but couldn’t come north due to security concerns at the time, however this time I hope that the Ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, Armagh will form a part of Pope Francis’s itinerary.
“Ireland, North and South has changed dramatically since 1979 and I sincerely hope that the Holy Fathers visit will be welcomed by people of all faiths on this island.
“Since his election as Pope, Francis has proven to be a very humble and deeply compassionate man. He has sought to reach out to new generations and to other dominations, he is an inspiring individual.’
“As the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland Armagh must be on the itinerary, and wouldn’t it be remarkable if he could visit both Cathedrals to St Patrick in the spirit of friendship and Christianity.
“On hearing formal confirmation of the visit this morning, I have asked that the Council’s Chief Executive engage directly with the Church authorities in Armagh to offer what every logistical support and assistance we can in hosting a papal visit in Armagh.”
He added: “Pope Francis has brought a new life to the church across the world.
“Whilst he leads over a billion Catholics, he comes across as a deeply humble, simple and very ordinary man.
“He has brought a message of compassion, care and humility to everything he does and he challenges governments and world leaders to step up and do the exact same.
“Pope Francis has demonstrated great compassion and generosity, values that our society and our political leaders needs to urgently rediscover. A visit would be another huge step toward uniting our communities on this island and welcoming him with open arms to Armagh would be a sign this society has truly moved to a better place.’
Mr Kenny tweeted that the Pope “has been an important voice for the young, the poor and disadvantaged”.
“Glad he will visit Ireland in 2018,” added Mr Kenny.
It is understood that the Vatican does not confirm a papal visit until six months before it is scheduled to take place.
The last papal visit to Ireland was in 1979.
But Pope John Paul II never travelled into Northern Ireland and Armagh following the murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten and of 18 soldiers at Warrenpoint. Instead, many here travelled to Drogheda to see him.
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