|Plaque outside the Irish Embassy in the Vatcian|
The closure of their embassy at the Vatican by the Irish government is a startling move.
While they couched it in terms of it saving money, the fact is that the Vatican posting, in particular, was considered one of the most high prestige posts in the world.
It is easy to see why. The Papal Nuncio, the Holy See Ambassador in Dublin, was always considered dean of the diplomatic corps there and given extra respect and access.
It would have been inconceivable a few years ago that Ireland would turn its back on its Vatican outpost.
It is a measure of how sadly diminished the Catholic Church is in Ireland that a government now feels enabled to take this step.
Eamon De Valera even enshrined the church's special position in the Irish constitution.
Years ago such a move would have resulted in a belt of the crozier sufficient to put the government back in line very quickly.
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There will be no such threat this time.
The Vatican has previously withdrawn their Nuncio in Dublin, Giuseppe Leanza, after the Irish government had criticized them over the sex abuse scandals.
New Prime Minster Enda Kenny quickly made his mark when he accused the Vatican of taking part in the cover up over abusive priests.
He was applauded by a scandal weary nation for doing so.
Those abuse cases have sucked the fight out of the church.
A recent survey conducted by a religious group showed that 50 percent of the Irish people no longer trusted the church.
That is an incredible number for a church that once had over 90 per cent mass attendance and the ear of every major politician.
The closure of the embassy is another extraordinary step in the evolving relationship between Dublin and the Vatican.
The Holy See will not be pleased at this move, signaling as it inevitably does a lessening of their influence in Ireland.
It will be interesting to see their response.