PopeWatch: Six Counties

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The Pope will not be visiting Northern Ireland during his visit to the Republic:


Arguably, the most significant item in the papal programme, at least from the secular viewpoint, will be the Missing Item, namely that oft-discussed papal visit to Northern Ireland.

This comes as no surprise. When Pope Francis officially confirmed the trip in a general audience in March, senior Vatican spokesman Greg Burke categorically told the Sunday Independent that there would be no “diversion” to the Six Counties.

The two main movers behind the visit – Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Dublin – have always been very cautious and circumspect about the possibility that he would include the North on his travels.

He will make a pastoral visit to the World Meeting of Families on August 25-26.

The visit – the first by a Pontiff since Pope John Paul’s Mass at Phoenix Park in 1979 – will include a series of events.

It includes a national opening, simultaneously in the 26 dioceses on August 21, followed by a three-day pastoral congress at the RDS, Dublin, on August 22-24.

However, most attention will focus on the weekend – the Festival of Families in Croke Park on Saturday, August 25, and the centrepiece of the visit – the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families on the following day.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world are expected to flock to the Phoenix Park.

The feeling remains, however, that this is an opportunity missed.

Go here to read the rest.  Well why shouldn’t he visit Northern Ireland?  As the abortion vote indicates, Northern Ireland no longer has a monopoly on virulent anti-Catholicism.  Abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland and the contrast could have been made by the Pope.  Better to face the honest hatred of Protestant fanatics in the North than the hatred of the Faith expressed by the “Catholics” in the Republic who celebrated, and that is not too strong a term, the abortion vote.  From a Catholic point of view there is little to choose now between the Six Counties and the rest of that island.

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  1. They may be anxious that some not-entirely-retired UVF militant will take a shot at him.

    Cannot help but notice that HM Elizabeth II has made courtesy visits to Ulster in recent years, which have included a Catholic Church on the itinerary.


    There was a story (perhaps apocryphal) that an advance team of Secret Service agents appeared one time at Buckingham Palace and told palace officials that in preparation for GW. Bush’s visit, so and so many windows in the palace would have to be replaced with bulletproof green glass. They were told by the officials that when you’re in a prominent position, you assume certain risks, and the windows would not be replaced. Maybe when Francis passes his 85th birthday, he’ll have the cojones of that pleasant old lady.

  2. If the Pope can go to Sweden to celebrate the founding of Lutheranism, he can darn well go to visit the Catholics in Northern Ireland. At least the Orangemen are anti-abortion.

  3. Cam wrote, “At least the Orangemen are anti-abortion.”

    Along with a number of other things: A popular song one can hear wafting from Irish pubs here in the West of Scotland (sung to the tune of Home on the Range) goes,

    “Oh give me a home
    Where there’s no Pope of Rome
    Where there’s nothing but Protestants stay
    Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
    And flute bands play The Sash every day

    (Chorus )No, no Pope of Rome
    No chapels to sadden my eyes
    No nuns and no priests
    No Rosary beads
    Every day is the 12th of July ”

    No, no Pope of Rome
    No chapels to sadden my eyes
    No nuns and no priests
    No Rosary beads
    Every day is the 12th of July

  4. I wonder if the Northern Ireland Catholics, being a minority, have a strong traditional faith? Similar to the Polish under Communism.
    According to the 2011 Northern Ireland census: Protestants 41.6%, Roman Catholic 40.8%, No religion/Not stated 16.9%. So why wouldn’t the Pope visit his flock in Northern Ireland? Unless the Vatican has been advised through diplomatic channels that a visit by Francis would cause a setback to the 1998 agreement?

  5. MP-S, I’m not surprised by the bigotry of that song, since the majority of Northern Ireland Protestants are Presbyterian.

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