John Cooney: Pope's meeting with queen a stepping stone to Irish visits
"Imagine dear Ireland as if it were a boat. The prospect of its floundering would not be too remote. And as the boat goes under to be lost beyond all hope, From the deck you will hear 'God Save the Queen', From the bridge, 'Long Live the Pope'."
THIS piece of doggerel encapsulates the sectarian divisions that have scarred relations between Ulster Protestants and Irish Catholics ever since the 16th-Century Reformation.
On a global scale, Britain, the foremost Protestant nation through the rabid religiosity of the English and the Scots, mobilised its empire in aggressive opposition to papal power, while Catholic Ireland spawned its own spiritual diaspora by exporting generations of priests and people to the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.