Angry Ireland no longer "Catholic first"

The aftershocks of the Coyne report continue to reverberate.

From the AP:

From the pews and pulpits, Ireland’s Catholics are demanding that the Vatican finally come clean on its oversight role in child abuse cover-ups.

It’s a revolution of sorts in Ireland, a nation founded on a pillar of devotion to Roman Catholicism, where many now question the church’s role in a rapidly changing society. For decades Irish leaders let archbishops vet proposed laws, declared they were Catholics first and Irishmen second, and saw crossing the church as a surefire way to lose office.

No longer.

The Irish are broadly lauding this week’s thunderbolt from Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who denounced the Vatican’s role in the past 17 years of abuse scandals. He accused the Holy See of downplaying “the rape and torture of children” and hiding behind its status as a sovereign state with its own secrecy-obsessed canon laws.

Astonished cabbies pulled off the road to watch the unprecedented speech on their smartphones. Victims of clerical sexual abuse, who have spent two decades trying to be heard and believed, cheered a day they thought would never come.

“It’s a landmark speech in emphasizing that Ireland’s historic deference to the Vatican, and to the Catholic Church generally, is over,” said Diarmaid Ferriter, professor of modern Irish history at University College Dublin.

Even Ireland’s priests, dismayed by their church leadership, voiced support for Kenny’s attack on the Vatican.

“The prime minister is a practicing Catholic and has a love for the Christian faith. He’s given a powerful voice to what we’ve all been thinking,” said the Rev. Tony Flannery, a leader of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

“The vast majority of ordinary priests feel incredibly frustrated and annoyed that the Vatican never admits any wrongdoing, is not open to dialogue, and permits this cloud to hang over all our heads. It’s unfair,” he said.

The rising church-state conflict in Ireland reflects a generation of dynamic economic and social change in this country of 4.5 million, more than 85 percent of whom identify themselves as Catholic on the census — but fewer than half of whom attend weekly Mass today.

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