The North's Catholic bishops are to encourage Pope Francis to make a cross-border journey during his planned visit to Dublin next August, according to a report in the Irish Catholic newspaper.

The publication quotes the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, as saying that it is "very unfortunate that ... north of the border doesn't appear to be in the agenda for a Papal visit" which is scheduled for the last weekend in August.

The initial itinerary, announced last week, is limited to two events in Dublin but the Vatican has said a full itinerary will not be published until closer to the pontiff's arrival.

Dr McKeown, told the paper that northern bishops will "make our voices heard through appropriate channels".

The most senior of Northern Ireland's prelates who has served as a bishop in Belfast and Derry for 17 years, Dr McKeown is also quoted as saying he believes that the Pope's presence would be an opportunity for reflection on the past.

"I do think people in the North have come through terrible times … I really think that there would be many people who would appreciate an opportunity to display just how far we have come and reflect on the past," he told the paper.

"It is very unfortunate that, for whatever reason - and I am not privy to those discussions - north of the border doesn't appear to be in the agenda for a Papal visit," Bishop McKeown said.

The Irish Catholic quotes him as saying that even a "short visit" would be a viable option and that Catholics in the North need to make their voices heard to make this a reality.

"I think we would want to take the feelings of the big congregations that we still have here in the North, make those heard in the Vatican - we are still five months out - to reconsider the decision and have a short visit to the North," he said.

The security threat posed by the Troubles prevented Saint John Paul II from visiting Northern Ireland during the first Papal visit to Ireland in 1979.

Instead, he celebrated an outdoor Mass near Drogheda which was attended by an estimated 300,000 people, many of whom travelled from Northern Ireland.

The Irish Catholic also quotes the County Antrim-born Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Alan McGuckian, as saying that although he's delighted that Pope Francis is coming to the country, he is disappointed that "it looks like he may not visit the North, which I believe - and still believe - was a hugely important opportunity".

"My heart was so set on it," he said. "It seemed so obvious that a second Pope should not come to Ireland and fail to visit the North where there is this great wound in Ireland. And it seemed like the obvious place for Francis to go," Bishop McGuckian said.

Pope Francis, who is 81, has said he will visit Dublin to attend the closing events in the World Meeting of Families, a three-yearly global gathering of Catholics which he has asked Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to host.

On Saturday 25 August he is scheduled to participate in the Festival of Families in Croke Park. And the following day he plans to celebrate a Mass in the Phoenix Park.