The archbishop of Dublin is hoping Pope Francis will visit Northern Ireland as well as Dublin to mark the next edition of the Catholic Church's big family rally.

While Francis hasn't committed to attending the August 2018 World Meeting of Families, popes have attended all but two of the past editions and Francis has made family ministry a priority.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told reporters Thursday that Irish bishops hoped Francis would complete the Irish tour St. John Paul II began in 1979, when he became the first pope to visit the Catholic country. The Vatican called off the Northern Ireland leg for security reasons.

Martin said while it's too early to start trip planning so far in advance, he assumed Francis would make a symbolic "gesture of reconciliation."