Monday 24 September 2018

Kevin Doyle: History can't be rewritten but the relationship between Church and State has changed forever

Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds on Christchurch, Dublin as he travels in the Popemobile during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds on Christchurch, Dublin as he travels in the Popemobile during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds as he travels in the Popemobile through Dublin during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis prays in front of a candle lit to remember victims of abuse by the church, inside St Mary's Pro Cathedral during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/Pool
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

DUBLIN Castle has been the scene of huge social change over recent years but perhaps today was the most significant.

In front of politicians of all hues, leaders from all the major religions, members of the LGBTI community and the world’s media, the Irish State sought to finally break free from the Catholic Church.

But Leo Varadkar’s speech in the presence of Pope Francis wasn’t in any way crude or disrespectful.

He was grateful that the Catholic Church set up schools and hospitals when governments seem oblivious to the needs of their people.

For once the Taoiseach managed to acknowledge the homeless crisis without putting up a hallow defence of government policy.

“Even today, as we struggle with a housing shortage and homelessness, Catholic organisations and people inspired by their Catholic faith fill a gap in providing services, for example, through organisations like CrossCare,” he said.

Pope Francis arrives at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, to join an audience of 82,500 and hear five testimonies by families from Ireland, Canada, Iraq, and Africa, during the Festival of Families event, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Pope Francis arrives at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, to join an audience of 82,500 and hear five testimonies by families from Ireland, Canada, Iraq, and Africa, during the Festival of Families event, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Pope Francis joins an audience of 82,500 at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin during the Festival of Families event, as part of his visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 25, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis waves as he attends the Festival of Families at Croke Park during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Pope Francis waves as he attends the Festival of Families at Croke Park during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Pope Francis leaves the Pro Cathedral after speaking at a couples ceremony. Photo: Tony Gavin
Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds on Christchurch, Dublin as he travels in the Popemobile during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis joins an audience of 82,500 at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin during the Festival of Families event, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Hugh Carroll, from Eastwall, Picture: Caroline Quinn
Marian Shiels, from Ballinteer, Dublin, with children; Veronica, 12, Mary Anne, 4, Angelina, 8, and John Paul, 11, waiting for Pope Francis to pass by on the the Popemobile. O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Repafadzo and Edinah Benjamin, from Chapelizod (originally Zimbabwe) waiting for Pope Francis to pass by on the the Popemobile. O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Jorge Totsuka, from Leon, Mexico, with daughters Andrea, 12, and April, 4, (asleep) await Pope Francis Picture: Caroline Quinn
April Totsuka, 4, from Leon Mexico Picture: Caroline Quinn
Pope Francis laughs as he leaves St Mary's Pro Cathedral during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of the public wait for Pope Francis on O'Connell Street in Dublin ahead of him passing on his Popemobile during his visit to Ireland.Photo: Manny Lawson/PA Wire
Pauline Gallagher (right) with her daughters Amelia and Alana after seeing Pope Francis on College Green, Dublin, as he travels in the Popemobile during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds on College Green, Dublin, as he travels in the Popemobile during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Pope Francis visits O'Connell Street Dublin
Pope Francis makes his way through College Green in Dublin. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Pope Francis arrives by Pope Mobile at the Pro Cathedral. Photo: Tony Gavin 25/8/2018
Pope Francis waves to the waiting crowds as he travels in the Popemobile through Dublin during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pope Francis arrives at Dublin Castle for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Pope Francis is on a two-day visit to Ireland. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Saturday 25 August 2018. Photo: Douglas O’Connor. Papal vist, St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Pope Francis.
Pope Francis arrives for a visit to St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin to meet with recently-married couples, and couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage, as part of his visit to Ireland. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Protesters demonstrate on the Ha'Penny Bridge during the visit of Pope Francis in Dublin, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

And he pleaded with the Holy Father to ensure “that from words flow actions” when it comes to dealing with child abuse.

But it was what he said about “the Ireland of the 21st century” that made this his best contribution since becoming Taoiseach.

While most of the build up centred on how Pope Francis would address the abuse scandals, Mr Varadkar overshadowed the Pontiff who repeated much of what we heard before about “pain and shame”.

Remember after his election as Fine Gael leader, Mr Varadkar declared that prejudice “has no hold” on this country. This could easily have been the second instalment of that speech.

Pope Francis prays in front of a candle lit to remember victims of abuse by the church, inside St Mary's Pro Cathedral during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/Pool
Pope Francis prays in front of a candle lit to remember victims of abuse by the church, inside St Mary's Pro Cathedral during his visit to Dublin, Ireland, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/Pool

He appealed to the Catholic Church to know its place in a society where people now “adhere to other faiths, or who are comfortable in declaring that they subscribe to no organised religion”.

Mr Varadkar urged that Church and State learn for their “shared mistakes” in order to ensure that while religious “is no longer at the centre of our society” it can still have “an important place”.

Pope Francis arrives at Dublin Castle for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Pope Francis is on a two-day visit to Ireland. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Pope Francis arrives at Dublin Castle for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Pope Francis is on a two-day visit to Ireland. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

“Holy Father, I believe that the time has now come for us to build a new relationship between church and state in Ireland - a new covenant for the 21st Century,” Mr Varadkar said.

That meant the Church allowing for greater diversity when it comes to the patronage of schools and that publicly-funded hospitals base their work on science.

Saturday 25 August 2018. Photo: Douglas O’Connor. Papal vist, St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Pope Francis.
Saturday 25 August 2018. Photo: Douglas O’Connor. Papal vist, St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Pope Francis.

At the same time, Mr Varadkar assured the Pope: “Modern Ireland is still a country with faith and spirit and values. Family, community, enterprise, social justice, diversity, openness and internationalism, equality before the law, and individual liberty -these values describe the Republic we aspire to be.”

And in case the Pope failed to understand why Ireland has changed so much in recent years, the Taoiseach listed out Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse as “stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church”.

“Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors,” he said.

And it was all beamed around the world from the same castle where people will recall seeing images of the marriage and abortion referendums results being announced.

Tomorrow the Pope will get to have his say in front of 500,000 faithful in the Phoenix Park – but he can be in doubt about the tone that wider society would like to hear.

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