Ireland has just elected its ninth president. He is 70-year-old Michael D.Higgins – women’s rights advocate, poet, humanitarian. Michael Higgins is also a Catholic and he takes up his office when the Catholic church in Ireland is in turmoil. Some Irish Catholics are leaving the church, others have stopped going to Mass and for most respect for the hierarchy has plummetted.
On top of all this the Irish government has announced it will close permanently its embassy to the Vatican. This stunned Rome coming from the most Catholic country in the English-speaking world. Incidentally, in Ireland there was little objection to this move. The government said it was closing the embassy as a cost-cutting measure. But most people saw through this and the move was seen as resulting from Catholic authorities in Rome and Ireland because they tried to obstruct the investigation into child sexual abuse.
There is another issue at play here. Does this reveal the declining prestige of the Vatican. Many countries now have two ambassadors in Rome – one to the Italian government and another to the Vatican.
Will other countries now do what Catholic Ireland has done — save money closing their embassy to the Holy See and allow its ambassador to Italy carry on with the relationship.
What do these embassies to the Vatican do, what do they accomplish?
Should Canadian consider closing its embassy to the Holy Sea which costs us many thousands of dollars?
Is the Vatican in decline?
What do you think?