MONTREAL — Pope Francis won't be visiting Montreal, or anywhere else in Canada, in 2017.
It was hoped that the Pope would visit the city next year as part of its 375th anniversary celebrations.
Mayor Denis Coderre personally invited Pope Francis to the city during a meeting at the Vatican in February, 2015, and in June of this year said he believed efforts to arrange the visit were going well.
But in a letter to the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, a Vatican official says "Pope Francis wishes to communicate that it will not be possible for him to visit Canada in 2017."
The letter, released Tuesday by the Archdiocese of Montreal, adds that it is the pontiff's "earnest hope" to possibly include Canada in his travels for 2018-2019.
Following their meeting in 2015, Coderre said he had discussed Montreal's Catholic heritage with the Pope and how it still resonates in the city's institutions and architecture as illustrated by such symbols as the famous cross on Mount Royal.
The last time a pontiff visited Quebec province was September 1984 when John Paul II drew massive crowds in Montreal, Quebec City and Trois-Rivieres.
The Canadian Press