Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he’s glad the Catholic Church is now less dominant in public life in the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking to the BBC on the eve of the papal visit, Mr Varadkar said he hopes the visit will begin a new chapter in Ireland’s relationship with the church.
“I think in the past the Catholic Church had too much of a dominant place in our society,” he said.
“I think it still has a place in our society but not one that determines public policy or determines our laws.”
Mr Varadkar went on to say that he would like to see the Pope visit Northern Ireland at some time in the future.
“We had hoped that it would be possible for him [Pope Francis] to go to Northern Ireland on this occasion,” he said.
“I would certainly like that to happen in the future, for him to bring a message of peace and a message of reconciliation to the north.”
Pope Francis will take part in engagements in Dublin and Knock during his two-day visit to Ireland.