I first took note in 1992 of the sway of power that the Catholic church had over Ireland when the case of a Bishop with a love child was made public. Bishop Eamon Casey was the Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and was highly revered. A friend who lived in Galway told me how people would speak to the Bishop as if they were in the company of God himself.
When the story broke, I was told that people were crying because their world of faith had been shattered. There was very little sympathy for the woman whom he had had a relationship with, Annie Murphy. Instead, she faced a barrage of criticism for speaking out against a Catholic Priest even though he had been a willing party to the relationship.
This fall from grace by a Catholic Bishop was, in my opinion, the start of the requestioning of the relationship between the Vatican and Ireland. Next came the child abuse tragedies that were covered up.
Now we have the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, telling the Vatican that the relationship between his country and the Catholic church will never be the same again. Mr Kenny has accused the church of more child abuse cover ups which were done, he says, to preserve the primacy of the church. The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland. The Irish Government is considering closing its embassy in the Vatican.
We are witnessing another chapter in the Catholic Church where people feel the time has come to question the seemingly unquestionable authority it has had.