Pope Benedict is expected to visit Ireland in 2012 for the International Eucharistic Conference, Irish church sources say. It will be held in Dublin.
Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, yesterday revealed that the Bishops' Conference has now formally issued the invitation, the Irish Independent reports.
Insiders say a papal visit would go some way to finally put to rest the issue of child sex abuse by clergy and help the struggling Irish church regain some momentum. A meeting with child abuse survivors would almost certainly be on the agenda.
Archbishop Martin stated the invitation had been acknowledged by the Vatican. The Pontiff will be 85 at the time of the proposed visit but he has been in robust health up to this point.
A separate invitation by the survivors of child for the Pope to meet them in Ireland was given by Archbishop Martin during this week's summit in Rome, when 24 Irish bishops visited there, but this has not yet been replied to.
The leader of a survivors group, Andrew Madden, said Archbishop Martin was not as strong when he met with him after his return from Rome, saying he "came across as a very different man to the man" he met last Saturday in advance of his trip to Rome.
"I put it to him that he appeared to have had his wings clipped in Rome and that this might go some way to explaining why his fellow bishops seemed so happy on their return to Ireland," said Madden.