The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will not attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin this summer.

A communiqué from the Vatican on Saturday announced that Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will be representing the Pope at the June event. Cardinal Ouellet is the former Archbishop of Quebec City, which hosted the last International Congress in June 2008.

There was mounting speculation in recent months that the 84-year-old Pontiff would visit Ireland for the conference which is expected to attract an estimated 25,000 attendees each day. The congress, which takes place every four-years, will run from the 10-17 June at the RDS in Dublin City.  The concluding mass at Croke Park on June 17 is expected to attract 80,000 people.

Speaking about Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s appointment, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described him a strong voice for the Church in a changing situation.

“As Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Ouellet had to face a very similar social and pastoral context to that which we have in Dublin, where traditional Catholicism was challenged by a rapid secularization.”

He added: “The Congress will be an occasion to show-case what is happening pastorally in the Archdiocese and to give a warm welcome to the thousands of guests coming from overseas.”