Irish Minister for Tourism Shane Ross said that it is “wonderful” that Pope Francis is planning to visit the country but questioned the timing of his visit, which might come shortly before a 2018 vote on abortion, according to the Irish Times.
Reports indicate that Francis is planning to visit Ireland in August 2018 to attend the World Meeting of Families conference in Dublin.
The pope’s visit could possibly coincide with a referendum on the country’s Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion in all but rare circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church staunchly opposes abortion.
According to the Times, when asked if the two events might occur at the same time, Ross replied, “I simply think that maybe there are better times to come than in the middle of a controversial political matter in which he might get embroiled.”
Ross said he welcomes the pope’s visit in a tourism context but is unsure if the papal visit will result in an increase in tourism numbers.
“I don’t know whether it would benefit tourism or not, I suspect it would. And he’ll be very, very welcome in that context,” he said.