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‘Still hope’ Pope Francis may come to Armagh after two-day papal visit confirmed

Full itinerary yet to be revealed during visit to Ireland in August

Hopes remain high that a visit to Armagh by Pope Francis could still be on the cards later this year.

Despite media reporting that it is unlikely he will come to Northern Ireland in August, the full itinerary has yet to be made known.

Confirmation came today that a papal visit will take place, when Pope Francis attends the World Meeting of Families in August.

The Vatican has now confirmed that the Pontiff will be in Dublin on August 25 and 26.

He is to preside at the closing ceremonies on the last two days of the World Meeting.

On Saturday, August 25, he is due to take part at the Festival of Families at Croke Park.

And on the Sunday, he will be at Phoenix Park, as the Chief Celebrant of Holy Mass as the week-long World Meeting of Families draws to a close.

Despite the short visit, local councillors in Armagh remain hopeful that the 81-year-old Pope Francis will come to Northern Ireland and include the Ecclesiastical Capital of Ireland on his itinerary.

SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon welcomed the official confirmation of the Pope visiting Ireland announced today (Wednesday).

“The news that the Holy Father will visit Ireland in August is fantastic news and is very much welcome,” he said.

“Now that the visit to Dublin has been confirmed, there is strong feeling that he must make the trip North as part of his visit.

“The Vatican has still to confirm the full schedule for Pope Francis’s visit so many of us are still very hopeful that Armagh can yet be included.

“It is truly fitting that this particular Pope should visit Armagh, the city of Saint Patrick. Pope Francis has shone a light on the homeless, the marginalised and the migrants in our society, all of which resonate with the story of Saint Patrick himself, a migrant to our shores.”

Councillor O’Hanlon said a papal visit to Armagh had been “much anticipated” since Cardinal Sean Brady first extended the invitation to Pope Francis to visit Ireland five years ago this week.

“I know there has been great expectation in Armagh and we still hope that Pope Francis will visit our city in August,” added the councillor.

“I know Archbishop Eamon Martin has spoken of his desire that Armagh would be included in the visit and I hope that, with a little gentle persuasion, we can yet see Pope Francis make an historic visit to Armagh in August.”

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