22 August 2018, The Tablet

Ireland’s vanishing Church

The Pope in Ireland

Ireland’s vanishing Church

I was 19 when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979. I travelled to Galway with a bus-full of young people to see him. The excitement at the first papal visit to Ireland seemed to touch everyone. Pope John Paul’s warm-up acts that day were the gregarious Bishop of Galway, Eamonn Casey, and the noted media priest, Michael Cleary, both at the height of their glory. Their subsequent fall from grace mirrored the catastrophic decline in the Church’s fortunes. I doubt there will be many bus-fulls of young people travelling from Irish parishes to see Pope Francis.

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