Visit of Pope Francis to Ireland: access to venues to be restricted

Numbers attending Phoenix Park Mass limited to 600,000, and 45,000 at Knock Shrine

(From left) Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, president and host of WMOF2018; and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, announce the publication of Pope Francis’s itinerary for the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Ireland. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

(From left) Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, president and host of WMOF2018; and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, announce the publication of Pope Francis’s itinerary for the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Ireland. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Access to venues in Ireland which Pope Francis will visit next August will to be heavily restricted, it was announced at a press conference on Monday where details of his visit as part of the World Meeting of Families were announced.

The key public events will see the pope fly by plane from Dublin to Knock airport on Sunday August 26th and travel to the Knock shrine where he will say the Angelus in the Apparition Chapel.

Afterwards he will return to Dublin for 3pm Mass in the Phoenix Park where crowds will be limited to 600,000 by Garda and city authorities for health and safety reasons.

When Pope John Paul came to Ireland in 1979 “there were two words not used; ‘health’ and ‘safety’,” Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said on Monday, who added “we have a very different regime and rightly so.”

Registrations for World Meeting of Families events in Dublin so far indicated the attendance would include “a very large number of families bringing their children,” he said.

“So you have to look at the safety, the question of accessibility, and the estimate is that in the Phoenix Park a figure of about 600,000 would be looked on today as being safe for that particular venue. Similarly for Knock, the OPW (Office of Public Works) would look at a figure of 45,000,” he said.

In Dublin Pope Francis would also “go through the city on some occasions in the Popemobile and on other occasions in a covered car.”

He would like the pope “to see, not just the tourist attractions but to see the places where people live the challenge to being family in Irish society,” the Archbishop said.

Archbishop Martin and the Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin said the pope will arrive at Dublin airport at 10.30am on Saturday, August 25th where there will be an official welcome.

The first event will see him visit President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtarain followed by a meeting at Dublin Castle with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and members of the diplomatic corps. At 3.30pm the Pope will visit Dublin’s ProCatherdal before going to the Capuchin Day Centre.

That evening the pope will attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park.

On Sunday morning he fly to Knock airport and transfer by motorcade to Knock Shrine where he will be at the Apparition Chapel from 9.45am. There he will lead the Angelus before transfer back to Knock airport at 10.45am.

He will arrive at the Phoenix Park for Mass at 3pm. Afterwards, he will meet the Irish Catholic bishops before departing from Dublin airport for Rome at 6.45pm.

Asked whether there was disappointment that Pope Francis was not going to Northern Ireland, Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said: “of course there is disappointment.”

He said “we really were hoping that this might be an opportunity for the Holy Father to visit Northern Ireland and I think he really would love to come to Northern Ireland.”

He added: “I think that will have to be a specific visit and I’m hoping that it will occur soon and I’m certainly trying to encourage those in Rome that that might happen.”

As to whether gay families would be welcome at World Meeting of Families events Archbishop Eamon Martin said they hoped “to have a discussion about that particular reality which is one of the many challenges and struggles that face family life in Ireland today.”