Belfast Telegraph

Vatican officials spark speculation of Papal visit to Ireland

By Anne Madden

The arrival of Vatican officials in Ireland last week has renewed speculation of a visit by the Pope next year.

Ireland is set to host the 50th International Eucharistic Congress - a major Catholic celebration - which occurs every four years and attracts visitors from around the world.

However, there was mounting speculation that Pope Benedict could be the star attraction at the week-long congress next June.

It is understood that the head of the Catholic Church could celebrate an open-air Mass at Croke Park in Dublin on June 17, 2012. The home of Gaelic games was recently visited by the Queen.

Gardai said that the experiences of both high security visits by the Queen and US President Obama would ensure the smooth running of any prospective visit.

Speculation on a papal visit to Ireland began last year when Pope Benedict made an historic trip to Britain.

The last papal visit to Ireland was in 1979 when Pope John Paul said Mass in front of thousands in Phoenix Park in Dublin.

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