Papal Visit Expected In 2012

Ireland has been selected as the destination for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, paving the way for a Papal visit next year.

Although no official confirmation has emerged, The Pope is expected to be the chief celebrant at the Congress, which will likely involve an open air Mass in Dublin's Croke Park in June, 2012.

Currently it is believed the Pope Benedict XVI will also make a visit to Northern Ireland as part of his trip. The Holy See visited Ireland in 1979 but has never visited the North.

Cardinal Seán Brady spoke of his excitement at the announcement as he helped launch the International Congress for 2012.

Cardinal Brady said 3,000 volunteers would be needed to help organise the congress in Ireland.

"It is our hope that the 2012 Congress will assist renewal in the Catholic Church in Ireland by reflecting on the centrality of the Eucharist at the heart of our increasingly diverse community, and give renewed impetus to the living of faith.

The cardinal said he felt "honoured, excited and humbled" that the Pope had chosen Ireland.

The visit is expected to face a barrage of protests and criticism however, coming only two years after the release of the Murphy and Ryan report, that found systematic child abuse by Irish priests and a culture of cover-up throughout the higher strata of the clergy.

Four Bishops resigned as a result of the revelations and a number of Gardaí investigations were launched.

In August 2010 Pope Benedict XVI decided not to accept the resignations of two Bishops despite findings in the Murphy and Ryan reports that both had failed to report incidents of child abuse to Gardaí.

The 2010 visit of the Pope to England and Scotland was peppered with protests in both the media and on the streets and recently the cost of the visit - estimated at around £12 million (€13.9 million) has also been a source of intense criticism.


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