McAllister: Belfast could see Papal visit in 2018

Pope Francis will be invited to Belfast as part of his expected visit to Ireland in 2018, after Alliance Councillor Nuala McAllister successfully secured support for the move on Monday night.

If accepted, the historic visit will signal the great progress made in Northern Ireland, following Pope John Paul II pleads for peace during a 1979 visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Councillor Nuala McAllister said: “I’m delighted Councillors finally got behind my calls for an invitation to be extended to Pope Francis as part of his expected 2018 visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families – despite the cynicism and negativity of some political representatives in the chamber.

“Humble and gracious in his devotion to faith, Pope Francis must be recognised for his progress in making the Catholic Church more accessible across the world.

“An international symbol of peace, Pope Francis is not just a religious figure but a universal figure of unity. Just as the visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Dublin was a ground breaking event, so this visit would have immense significance – welcomed by a huge majority of the population, not just the Catholic congregations.

“Unfortunately in Northern Ireland religion is often used as a divisive issue – but this visit could be a uniting factor, with many people of faith across Belfast delighted to see it become reality.”

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