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Suggestion of joint visit by Pope Francis and the Queen to Northern Ireland quashed

A leading Catholic journalist in Ireland has shot down rumours that Pope Francis will join the Queen on a visit to Northern Ireland next year.

Michael Kelly, the editor of the Irish Catholic, has denounced claims that the Pope, who will be in Dublin in 2018 for the World Meeting of Families, will travel north of the border and be joined by the Queen.

“It’s not going to happen: the Pope comes as a pastoral leader to a particular country or region – his ministry is primarily to the local Catholic community,” said Mr Kelly. “Obviously in the context of somewhere like Northern Ireland, his role is wider than that and is support of the peace process and wider efforts at reconciliation, but it is not a political visit.

“A joint visit with the Queen would overly-politicise it and would probably upset some people within the Catholic/broader nationalist community.”

Q Radio, a Northern Irish radio station, reported that the Pope was due to travel to Northern Ireland and be joined by the Queen and that plans for a joint visit were in the works.

It has been picked up by wider media across Ireland.

Details of Pope Francis visit to Ireland next year, which many Scottish Catholics are expected to attend, were confirmed this week with the visit which takes place between August 21 and 26.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said that ‘anywhere he goes his presence will be linked to the World Meeting of Families,’

“There will be no side agendas, there will be a number of events – a three day conference in the RDS about family values, on the Saturday evening there will be, presumably in Croke Park, a festival of families, there will be a celebration of families, with musicians and speakers. On the Sunday there will be a final Mass, presumably in the Phoenix Park,” he said. “You have to remember this Pope is 81, Pope John Paul II was 60 (when he visited Ireland in 1979), so the amount of things he can do is limited.”

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