The Pope has expressed hope his visit to Ireland will help grow unity and reconciliation among Christians on the island.
In a video message released ahead of his weekend arrival, Pope Francis said he was excited about his two-day trip to Dublin and the Knock holy shrine in Co Mayo.
The video was released hours after it was confirmed that the Pope will meet victims of clerical sex abuse during his Irish visit.
The Pope is also attending the Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families during a packed itinerary of engagements.
The video message coincided with the opening of the major family-themed event in Dublin on Tuesday evening.
“Although the specific reason for my visit to Ireland is the World Meeting of Families, I would like to include all the members of the Irish family,” the Pope said.
“In a particular way, I pray that it may further the growth of unity and reconciliation among all Christ’s followers, as a sign of that lasting peace which is God’s dream for our whole human family.”
In opening the message, the pontiff said: “As I prepare to visit Ireland in a few days’ time for the World Meeting of Families, I send a warm word of greeting to all the Irish people. I am excited at the thought of returning to Ireland.”
The Pope is due to arrive in Dublin on Saturday for two days of meetings with families and political authorities.
He will also make a trip to the Knock shrine, which is revered by Catholics.
The papal visit will be the first for Ireland in 40 years and at least half a million people are expected to attend a special mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.