“Ireland, my one and only love, where God and Caesar are hand in glove.”
God and Caesar, the latter in the shape of Irish political leaders, have been hand in glove since the foundation of the Irish free state.
No other country recognized in its constitution the special position of the Catholic Church, no political leadership bowed and scraped more for acceptance from the Vatican overlords.
No country on earth was as cravenly beholden to Roman masters as the Irish were.
But on one extraordinary speech last week, new Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny blew all that away.
He accused the church of covering-up child rape pure and simple, and made clear that the civil authorities in Ireland had enough of the half measures of the Vatican.
He was reacting with sound and fury to the Cloyne Report which clearly showed the church had covered its own backside rather than rushing to protect abused children.
It was an extraordinary speech, one heard around the world, and Kenny was flooded with thousands of congratulatory messages, many from priests.
Maureen Dowd in The New York Times called the speech “breathtaking” and stated, “People are no longer afraid to confront these …corrupt practices and vast cover-ups.”
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who seems the lone sane voice in Ireland’s hierarchy, described Kenny’s remarks as groundbreaking.
One wonders what Joyce would have made of the transformational moment, where the civil authorities at last stood up to the excesses of Vatican power.
The recall of the Papal Nuncio was another amazing moment. The Papal Nuncio is so highly regarded and kow-towed to that he is automatically the dean of the diplomatic corps in Dublin.
The posturing by the Vatican, however, could not disguise the fact that they had disgraced the church’s good name once again in Ireland by their reaction to the Cloyne Report.
It seems like God and Caesar may shortly be seeking a divorce in Ireland. And not before time.