VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has confirmed he plans a brief trip to Ireland in August to attend a big Catholic family rally.
Francis made the long-awaited announcement at the end of his weekly general audience Wednesday, saying he intends to go to Dublin Aug. 25-26 for the World Meeting of Families. He made no mention of an oft-rumored stop in Northern Ireland.
It will be the first papal trip to Ireland since the explosion of cases of clerical sex abuse devastated the Catholic Church's moral authority in the once staunchly Roman Catholic country. In recent years, Ireland has legalized gay marriage over the church's objections, and this spring is due to hold a referendum on overturning a constitutional ban on abortion.
St. John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979.