Wednesday 7 December 2016

Colette Browne: Papal visit will remind us just how tangled Church and State still are

Published 29/11/2016 | 02:30

Pope Francis, left, meets Taoiseach Enda Kenny, right, during a private audience in the Vatican yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Alessandra Tarantino
Pope Francis, left, meets Taoiseach Enda Kenny, right, during a private audience in the Vatican yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Alessandra Tarantino

The Ireland that Pope Francis visits in 2018 will be vastly different to the theocracy his predecessor John Paul II toured in 1979, but the Catholic Church's grip on education and healthcare remains as tightly clenched as before.

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According to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, we're all friends again. After a brief spat in 2011, when Mr Kenny rightly eviscerated the Vatican for its wilful failure to adequately investigate decades of clerical child sexual abuse in this country, relations are now much improved.

"I explained [to Pope Francis] my own difficulties with the Church some years ago and was happy to confirm that Church-State relations are in better shape now than they were for very many years," said Mr Kenny, speaking after his 25-minute meeting with the Pontiff.

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