A spokesperson for Cardinal Desmond Connell has said the authorities in the Vatican have given him no reason to believe that they are on the point of accepting his resignation.

She described a newspaper report quoting sources in Rome as saying his tenure as Archbishop of Dublin could end as early as next summer as 'purely speculative'.

Cardinal Connell is expected to travel to the Vatican on Sunday for a three-day visit which his office is describing as 'completely routine'.

His office has said that he postponed the visit for a week because 'on reflection' he thought it more important to join a bishops' retreat in Knock where they discussed church insurance against claims by victims of child sexual abuse.