Church and State in Ireland: Improved Relations or Deepened Hostilities? | Michael Kelly | CWR
The positive rhetorical of many political leaders is undermined by push against Catholic schools, hospitals, and pro-life teachings
When the Irish Government announced in November 2011 that it would close the Embassy to the Vatican, it marked an all-time low in relations between the traditionally staunchly Catholic country and the Holy See.
It was a far cry from the time when Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini (later Pope Paul VI) told Irish officials in 1946, “you are the most Catholic country in the world!”
But, now, less than three years after the closure, the Government has announced the appointment of a new ambassador who will shortly take up residence in Rome and present her credentials to Pope Francis. Emma Madigan will be responsible for getting relations between Ireland and the Vatican back on an even keel.
A new era?
So, does the opening of the embassy mark a new era of warmer relations between Church and State? The country’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, certainly thinks so. Speaking in Rome last month after attending the double canonization ceremony for Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, Mr. Kenny expressed his view that there now exists a “closer and healthier relationship between Church and State” following tensions over the handling of abuse allegations against priests and religious.
But, is Mr. Kenny’s view backed up by the evidence on the ground? Many dispute it. “This Government is incredibly hostile towards the Church,” says David Quinn, Director of the pro-religious freedom think-tank The Iona Institute.