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Rome Reports

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St John Paul II visit to Ireland 39 years ago


In less than a week, Pope Francis will be traveling to Ireland to attend the World Meeting of Families. It will be the first time a pope has visited Ireland since Pope John Paul II's visit 39 years ago, when a third of the population had turned out to see the Holy Father.

This new documentary, directed by Emmy Award-winner David Naglieri and narrated by Jim Caviziel, “John Paul II in Ireland – A Plea for Peace” delves into John Paul II's historic three-day trip to the country in 1979, particularly in Drogehda, during a time of violent struggle between the IRA and British State Security forces over control of Northern Ireland.

DAVID NAGLIERI
Director of “John Paul II in Ireland – A Plea for Peace”
“It is really an untold story. People are really unaware of the way in which it planted the seed of peace. And it was a story that lived in the hearts of those who were influenced, and we wanted to give them a chance to share their story. And to tell the world about his speech in Drogehda and how his crusade for peace that became part of his entire incredible 26 year papacy also had a great impact in Ireland.”

The documentary interviews many prominent political and social figures such as former IRA bomber Shane O'Doherty, Martin Mansergh, Seamus Mallon and Lord David Alton. 

SHANE O'DOHERTY
Former IRA bomber
“Breathed life into the Gospel values of peace and reconciliation. He breathed life into the skeleton. He enfleshed it.”

MARTIN MANSERGH
Advisor, Northern Ireland to Successive Taoisigh
“His appeal did have an impact in relation to the Northern Ireland conflict. And I think the vehemence of his opposition to violence broke any link between Catholicism and the provisional IRA.”

The documentary also unveils new archival evidence detailing the hidden role John Paul II played in the secret talks between opposition leaders for peace in Northern Ireland. 

DAVID NAGLIERI
Director of “John Paul II in Ireland – A Plea for Peace”
“Pope Francis will be planting seeds the same way John Paul II did. And what are the seeds he's planting? And what kind of harvest will he reap? It's another point of reflection as we see Pope Francis visit Ireland.”

At an intense time for the Church in Ireland with the abuse scandals and legalization of abortion this film hopes to show the positive impact a papal visit had on Ireland last time.