Kenny asks pope to consider Irish visit


The Fine Gael leader yesterday handed a written invitation to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to consider a visit to Ireland.

Enda Kenny, in Rome for a meeting of the Christian Democrat International Party, received an invitation to visit the pope at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

"I took the opportunity to hand his holiness a letter in which I expressed a wish that he might consider a visit to Ireland. I reminded him that when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979, the visit was incomplete because he did not visit the North," Mr Kenny explained.

"I know it is the absolute right of the Primate, Dr Brady, to invite the pope to visit Ireland, but I made the point that with such progress made in the peace process we would be delighted if Pope Benedict considered making the journey.

"I expressed a wish, as a person from close to the Marian shrine of Knock . . . for Pope Benedict to visit Knock, in particular," said Mr Kenny.

"Obviously the letter will now have to be read and considered by the Vatican but I was delighted to shake hands with Pope Benedict."