Pope Francis is reportedly considering visiting Scotland in November for a climate change conference in Glasgow.
According to The Times, the Bishops' Conference of Scotland is understood to have been told to prepare for the possibility of a papal visit at the time of the 26th UN (COP26) Climate Change Conference.
Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic media office told Premier that while the pandemic is still a significant factor, the visit is possible:
"We know that Pope Francis does have a particular interest in environmental and ecological matters. We know that it is something that he is interested in and the Holy See have observer status at the UN. What will be happening in Glasgow in November will basically be a UN conference hosted by the UK Government. So, in that capacity as an observer member, then a representative of the Holy See could attend and, in theory, that representative could be Pope Francis."
If the papal visit did go ahead, then it would be a hat trick for Scotland. In 1982, the late Saint John Paul II came to Glasgow. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI began his visit to the UK in Edinburgh, meaning each of the last three Popes would have visited the country.
Peter Kearney added that if social distancing measures are in place in November then Pope Francis' potential visit would be very different to previous trips:
"Previous visits have been very much of a pastoral nature, where the Pope was coming in his capacity as the leader of the Catholic Church. And there were liturgical aspects to that there were opportunities for worship, for prayer, and so on. This would be a different thing. So, whether or not it would be possible for anything other than just the business of the conference is probably doubtful.
"It's still wonderful that he would be here among us, but not the same as those past events where we have seen huge gatherings in public parks and in all the largest cathedrals."