A divided country, a weakened Church

A divided country, a weakened Church

The biggest crowd at any gathering in Europe this weekend will greet Pope Francis at the Phoenix Park today. But the scale of the event masks a deep ambivalence, and in some cases outright hostility, towards the Catholic Church in Irish society

This afternoon, after his early-morning visit to say the Angelus in the square in front of the Apparition Chapel in Knock in Co Mayo, Pope Francis will draw what will be the largest crowd in Europe at any event this weekend. Half a million people is a staggering number, and a reminder that, despite the controversies, despite the scandals, despite the huge violation of trust committed by elements of the Church, despite everything, Ireland has a significant Catholic heritage.

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