What do the Holy See and East Timor have in common?
That’s right — the Irish government doesn’t give a flying toss about either of them. Both embassies are to close, ostensibly as a cost-saving measure, but in reality because they’ve become irrelevant. The Vatican has disgraced itself so much that it no longer commands respect even among those Irish who still practise Catholicism, and after its haughty dismissal of concerns over child-abuse, it was only a matter of time before the once-strong relationship hit rock bottom.
It’s been a long way down for an outfit whose officials once had the power to summon Irish prime ministers before them and lay down the law on government. Many today complain that we’re now ruled from Berlin, and that might well be true, but it’s not the first time a foreign state dictated Irish public policy. For generations, the shape of Irish education and healthcare was defined in Rome and transmitted to obedient government ministers by the Papal Nuncio, whose word was law and who was accorded preferential treatment over all other foreign diplomats. As recently as 1978, contraception was illegal in Ireland due to Vatican interference and the compliance of craven politicians.
Today, there is no Nuncio, since Leanza was withdrawn by the Holy See in a tantrum after Enda Kenny dared to criticise it. And now there’s no Irish embassy either. Instead, a civil servant in Dublin will act as ambassador to that ridiculous little statelet that presumes to instruct real countries how to conduct their business. It’s a long way from the 1932 Eucharistic Congress where bishops and cardinals preened and strutted their way across the capital city of a country whose inhabitants were close to starvation, while politicians prostrated themselves before these dysfunctional old celibates.
Seán Brady and Séamus Martin are predictably outraged. Brady in particular seems completely flabbergasted that any Irish government would dare to disregard the wishes of his masters. Apparently oblivious to the irony of his words, Brady said I hope that despite this regrettable step, the close and mutually beneficial co-operation between Ireland and the Holy See in the world of diplomacy can continue.
Perhaps, instead of pontificating, Brady would be better occupied contemplating his decision to impose an oath of silence on young sex-abuse victims. Perhaps he might consider stepping down from his office and explaining to the people of Ireland precisely how far he went in covering up the crimes of his fellow priests.
Meanwhile, Garry O’Sullivan the editor of the Irish Catholic, called the move an attack on Catholic culture. They haven’t gone away, you know.
The Vatican is reported to be stunned, as all overbearing bullies are when somebody stands up to them, but this move, while a good start, is still only a start. Now let’s get them out of our schools and out of our health system.
There’s no room for a priest lurking at the back of a classroom or behind the screen in a hospital ward.