Europe

Irish church eyes 2018 papal visit, reconciliation gesture

Pope Francis delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Francis, addressing tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, expressed his hopes for an humanitarian summit opening the next day in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Francis, addressing tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, expressed his hopes for an humanitarian summit opening the next day in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

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."