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Castlebar trio have private audience with the Pope

Castlebar trio to meet Pope

Edwin McGreal

For the first time in a long time, Fine Gael’s Eugene McCormack might be cursing Enda Kenny this week.
The Mayor of Castlebar is in Rome this week for a private audience with the Pope, which will take place this evening (Tuesday), and coming hot on the heels of his party leader and Taoiseach’s condemnation of the Vatican, Cllr McCormack might be keeping his party cards close to his chest.
“I’m not sure if the Pope will talk to Eugene after Enda’s outburst,” joked Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, who is also due to go on the trip. “It would be great if we were able to get the Pope to say to Eugene that he wasn’t welcome because of Enda Kenny’s statement (laughs). But the reality is the Pope probably won’t make that connection at all.”
Cllr Eugene McCormack, however, is more concerned about having a word in the Pope’s ear and inviting him to Mayo next year,
“I’m not sure how long we each will be able to speak to the Pope but, if I am able, I will be inviting him to Mayo for next year’s Eucharistic Congress. Knock is a very important religious location in Ireland and beyond and if the Pope were to come to Ireland, I would be very confident that he would come to Mayo.
“A lot of people have been talking to me about me going, as a Fine Gael man after Enda’s speech but I think I’ll be okay. All this was planned from a good while back and it is a private audience brought about by the Pope’s connections with the Parish Priest of Hochstadt.”
Together with Cllrs McCormack and Kilcoyne, Castlebar Town Manager Seamus Granahan will complete the official Castlebar delegation who will be part of a small group who will receive the private audience at the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Audiences at his summer retreat are extremely rare but the Castlebar trio are among the exceptions due to connections with German town Hochstadt-an-der-Aisch, which is twinned with Castlebar.
The Parish Priest in Hochstadt, Fr Kilian Kemmer, is a college friend of Pope Benedict XVI and he has arranged for the private audience with representatives from Hochstadt, from their twinned town in Russia (Krasnogorsk, Moscow) and from Castlebar. Michael Kilcoyne is going to invite the Pope to Mayo.
“Next year the Eucharistic Congress is taking place in Ireland and there is a hope that he will come to Ireland. What I’ll be doing is inviting him to come to Mayo,” he told The Mayo News.
“I won’t be going down the line of discussing Cloyne and recent events. I just see it as an opportunity to further relations with the Vatican. I would broadly agree with Enda Kenny in terms of his recent speech but the state is equally culpable too, which needed to be said. When judges sent young people to places like Letterfrack and Gardaí brought children back when they ran away, the state was complicit in what was happening.
“I see meeting a Pope as an honour all the same. Religion is still a key part of life.”
Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict XVI the Pope will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination.