A fresh approach for a new era
At the Dublin Eucharistic Congress of 1932, the infant Irish State was virtually identified with the Catholic Church. And the church maintained its unique position in Irish society, Irish politics and Irish hearts for the best part of another half-century.
Its decline has been swift, and poignant. It has not come, as in most other European countries, through a century and more of increasing scepticism and secularism. These factors have long existed, but the crisis came quite suddenly, with the clerical sex abuse scandals, the cover-ups and the public fury.
Most Irish Catholics -- even those who practise little or not at all -- still derive comfort from the church. They remember its heroism in a time of persecution. They regard it as good for the country.