Pope’s visit important for all Christians in Ireland – C of I Bishop

An ‘opportunity to strengthen the warm ecumenical bonds that already exist’

Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe Kenneth Kearon: ‘Families are at the heart of church and community in Ireland.’

The visit of Pope Francis to Ireland was important "for all Christians in Ireland", not just Catholics, a Church of Ireland bishop has said.

Pope Francis was "exercising remarkable Christian leadership on a global scale" and had an effect "few would have thought possible in a remarkably short time", Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe Kenneth Kearon said.

He gave thanks for the “great hope the visit brings to Christians of all denominations, in our complex and unsettled world”.

In preparation for the visit Bishop Kearon has written to his diocesan clergy and readers “to take the opportunity to strengthen the warm ecumenical bonds that already exist between churches in this region”.


He has also also written to his fellow Catholic bishops "rejoicing in Pope Francis's own ecumenical commitment on a wider front, and noted his warm personal friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby", head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Good wishes

Bishop Kearon also "felt it appropriate that each church send a message, possibly a letter or a visit, to their own local Roman Catholic parishes, assuring them of our prayers and good wishes at this time".

The World Meeting of Families was an “interest we all share. Families are at the heart of church and community in Ireland,” he said.

Bishop Kearon has also suggested a prayer be said in churches of his diocese for “all who bear the bewildering responsibility of Christian leadership among the churches of the world”.

The Church of Ireland Primate and Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson will take part in the very first session of the World Meeting of Families, at its pastoral congress in the RDS on Wednesday, August 22nd.

On the theme "Celebrating Family in the Judeo-Christian Tradition", the panel will also include Archpriest Mikhail Nasonov, rector of the Dublin Russian Orthodox Church, and Chief Rabbi Zalman Lent of Dublin's Hebrew Congregation.

Last June the Presbyterian Church in Ireland agreed its Moderator should meet Pope Francis when he visits Ireland. Traditionally the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland, has been most opposed to Catholicism and its leadership.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times