POPE Francis is considering making his first visit to Scotland for a climate change conference in Glasgow. 

The leader of the Catholic church is reported to have mooted the idea, with discussions taking place “at the highest level”.

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 COP26 climate gathering in November. 

He would be the first Pope to visit the city since Benedict XVI came in 2010. This was three decades after Pope John Paul II famously addressed an estimated 300,000 worshippers in Bellahouston Park in 1982. 

The Pope has dispatched his senior diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to previous COP meetings, but The Times reports the Vatican is considering whether a personal visit from the pontiff would send a stronger signal.

The UK’s ambassador to the Holy See was given a private audience with the Pope last month. Sally Axworthy did not comment on whether the prospect of a papal visit was raised, but she told paper: “Everyone who is a member of the UN framework convention on climate change can attend and that includes the Holy See, which has observer status.

HeraldScotland: Worshippers welcome Pope John Paul II in 1982 Worshippers welcome Pope John Paul II in 1982

“It is perfectly possible they will attend but it is up to them to decide the level of representation.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church said: “While the decision on whether or not the Pope attends the UN climate summit in Glasgow will be a matter entirely for the Holy See, Scotland’s Catholic bishops would warmly welcome his presence, however briefly, in this country.”

The report comes a day after we took a look at the race to find a replacement for the late Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia. As we reported, it is understood the church plans to have a man in place by COP26.