The Irish government decision last week to close its Vatican Embassy in Rome was the correct one.
It has ignited some controversy in Ireland, where many have claimed it is payback time for the Vatican interfering in the church abuse scandals in Ireland.
Taoiseach (Prime Minster) Enda Kenny has stated that the closure was no such thing, but that might be taken with more than a grain of salt.
So what if it is? Someone needed to make clear to the Vatican that their action in blocking a legal Irish investigation into pedophile priests was criminal activity in itself.
The Vatican, because of its lofty role in the world, has tried to portray itself as above any such considerations, but it is a tale being retold far too often around the world.
The church as an institution is still on the back foot on this one, unable or unwilling to recognize the damage done and act accordingly.
Only in recent times, and thanks to inspirational figures like Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Dublin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston, have we seen church elders stand up and take responsibility for the horrific acts that were done by professed priests.
The lives of thousands of children were destroyed by sexual predators, and many in the Vatican saw no evil.
Amazingly, it was this current Irish government that spoke up loudly and clearly soon after they took office.
Kenny’s speech in the Dail on the matter has already gone down in history as one of the most important he will ever make.
It established a marker that such behavior would not be tolerated in the future, and that the Irish government was no longer prepared to turn a blind eye to Vatican complicity in a cover-up.
The fact that Ireland is the Vatican’s longest standing satellite and where the church had by far the greatest influence makes that move all that more courageous.
Now the Irish government has taken the next obvious step. The closure of the Vatican Embassy is, no doubt, a direct result of the child abuse cover-ups.
The backlash made such a closure possible, and there has been remarkably little negative comment apart from the usual hierarchy suspects to it in Ireland.
The Vatican has no one to blame but its own institutional rules and determination to protect the privileged at all costs.
We are seeing the corrosive effects of that child abuse across Irish society where, in times of economic hardship, the church had a major role as bulwark of the community and society.
A recent opinion poll showed that barely 50% of the Irish people had any faith anymore in church institutions.
Currently we are witnessing the church making superfluous changes to the language of the Mass, and portraying the move as some kind of major initiative.
Would it not be better to get its house in order on issues like sex abuse, deeply consider why such a catastrophe befell the church, and try and find a new way in the future to become more open and responsive?
Nero, Rome and fiddling come to mind when reading about the new language for the Mass, which seems right now to be the church’s greatest priority.
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