A proposal to invite Pope Francis to include Galway on his proposed visit to Ireland in 2018 is set for discussion at the November sitting of Galway City Council.
Cllr Pearce Flannery who submitted the motion says “it is a win-win for everybody concerned, religious and secular alike”, and has asked all councillors and stakeholders to support this proposal and get behind the initiative so the invitation will have unanimous support once it is issued.
The motion is asking “That the Galway City Council executive write to Dr Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland and request that he formally invite His Holiness Pope Francis to visit Galway during his proposed visit to Ireland in 2018 and celebrate Mass in a similar fashion to his predecessor John Paul II in 1979.”
If Pope Francis comes to Ireland in 2018, he will be the first pontiff to visit these shores since 1979. On that occasion Pope John Paul II visited Galway on September 30 1979 and celebrated Mass at Ballybrit race course where an estimated 280,000 people attended the now famous Youth Mass.
Speaking exclusively to the Galway Advertiser Cllr Flannery said; “It is likely that the Pope will come to Ireland in 2018, and if that comes to fruition, I think it is important that Galway is firmly on the agenda. The process needs to be kick started somewhere and I think as a councillor it is a good idea to issue an invitation.
“Hopefully if this motion is passed, it will start the ball rolling. I am hopeful that we will get support from a wide range of quarters, both religious and secular. I believe a visit of the Pope to Galway will have the same impact on people as Pope John Paul’s arrival here [in 1979] which is an iconic memory.”
Cllr Flannery hoped that a decision on the motion would be reached promptly because of the amount of preparation and detail involved in such an undertaking.
“It is imperative that we get Galway on the itinerary as soon as possible because decisions and plans must be made from a wide range of quarters, not just in Ireland. Issues such as security, logistics, accommodation, all of these things must be taken into account with an event as significant as this and a lot of these decisions will be made in advance long term, perhaps 18 months.
est foot forward early, it may be that Galway may not be included on the agenda for no other reason than not giving enough notice.”
The Fine Gael councillor added that a papal visit would be another feather in the cap of Galway’s ability to host major events.
“At a secular level it will attract a huge amount of people to Galway. In the short term it will give a huge boost to tourism to the city and wider area. It will again bring Galway under world scrutiny in a good light.
“We have had a lot of good news stories in the past couple of years with Galway winning European Capital of Culture and region of gastronomy, but a papal visit would highlight Galway’s ability from a different perspective and as a different destination.”
Apart from the potential commercial benefit, the Galway councillor was keen to stress how important the visit would be spiritually for Catholics in Galway and the west.
“From a spiritual viewpoint, we still are a predominantly Roman Catholic country, and for the leader of the Roman Catholic church to come to this country, it is important for all people living on the west coast that we get to see the Pope here. It is critical that we are not forgotten. I want to make sure that does not happen with this proposal.
“Irrespective of one’s religion, the Pope is a major figure of one of the largest churches in the world and from a spiritual level I think there would be a outpouring of joy and happiness if Pope Francis came to Galway in 2018.”