Attitudes to and the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland have changed over the decades, partly as a consequence of transgressions to which the Vatican has turned a blind eye, and as a result of social trends that priests have been powerless to stop.
None of that, we can be sure, will dent the enthusiasm of the faithful — young and not-so-young — as they travel to Dublin and Knock to see, and pray with, Pope Francis during his visit next month. There will be a Mass at Phoenix Park and entertainment at Croke Park provided by some of Ireland’s most popular singers and dancers.
Popes visit Ireland infrequently. The most recent was in 1979, when more than a million people gathered in Phoenix Park for a Mass with Pope John Paul II. Forecasters think the numbers next month will not be as great. They could be wrong.