The Irish have been badly served by the church they embraced as a comfort in times of British oppression, and later as something close to national identity. Not surprisingly, as the orphanage and child abuse scandals kept drenching the hierarchy in shame, the Irish are becoming Catholics in memory or in name only. They will never again be priest-ridden, but may be priest-served, with a viable Catholic presence, if the church keeps on moving in the direction this rather moving event indicates.
Finally, the denial, excuses, “a few rotten apples”, circling wagons, and secrecy are put aside and mirabile dictu, the Archbishop of Dublin is saying
On behalf of the Holy Father, I ask forgiveness, for the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests, and the past failures of the church’s hierarchy, here and in Rome — the failure to respond appropriately to the problem of sexual abuse. Publicly atoning for the church’s failures is an important element of asking the forgiveness of those who have been harmed by priests and bishops, whose actions — and inactions — gravely harmed the lives of children entrusted to their care….there is still a long path to journey in honesty before we can truly merit forgiveness.