Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he believes Pope Francis is determined to visit Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Archbishop said Ireland was chosen to hold the World Meeting of Families because the pope has a personal interest in Ireland.

Dr Martin said it was too early to say if the pope would attend the event in 2018 and that he did not discuss an invitation with him about a visit.

He said: "He sees this as something that is very close to his own ideas.

"He has a great liking for Ireland and he has a concern for Ireland and I think he just sees this as coming to Ireland but with a good build-up to it rather than just arriving with a few weeks notice."

Dr Martin said he will discuss the matter at the Synod of Bishops and that it may be known in the next three weeks if Francis will come to Ireland.

The Archbishop said the pope has a concern for Ireland in relation to the damage caused by the child sex abuse scandal and added that the pontiff is aware of the fact that Irish society is changing and that the social ethic of families in the western world is changing.

Pope Francis announced during his visit to the US that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in Dublin in three years' time.

His spokesperson also said that, given the size of the country, Ireland might expect to attract approximately half the number of participants that participated in Philadelphia.

The World Meeting of Families was established in 1994 and was twice hosted by Rome.

Dublin to host major Catholic event 2018


Popes have travelled to four of the remaining six gatherings but a spokesperson for the Dublin Archdiocese said it was not speculating one way or another about the possibility of a Papal visit to the Dublin event.

Pope Francis has more than once predicted that his pontificate, which began in 2013, might not last until 2018, but even if he serves until then, advancing age may force him to significantly curtail his travels by then.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Minister Richard Bruton and Minister Jan O'Sullivan said Pope Francis would be very welcome in Ireland.