When Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, dared to attack the Vatican's
role in the alleged cover-up of child abuse, he unleashed an
unprecedented row between the Catholic church and the Irish state, with
Rome recalling its ambassador to Dublin, and one priest even comparing
Kenny to Adolf Hitler.
But Kenny's speech last week has also won
him thousands of letters of support, and revealed how – after centuries
in which the Catholic church was a dominant force in Irish society – the
influence of Rome has dwindled, leaving a country that is now more
tolerant and secular than at any time in its history.
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