When, some decades ago, the institutions of Irish Catholicism, international Catholicism too, refused to confront the horrors of abuse and neglect exposed by one report after another that stand, that early rejection, led to an unimagined loss of authority and influence.
That authority and the credibility that flowed from it may never be recovered.
Comparing that loss to the situation faced by our Government over the Mother and Baby Homes Bill may be disproportionate - just. At lunchtime yesterday more than 130,000 people had signed a petition demanding that the seal on archives testimony from survivors of mother and baby homes be lifted.
A Bill, passed by the Oireachtas, means all records apart from a database shared with Tusla and the contents of a 4,000-page report due next week will be sealed for three decades.
The waters have, it seems, been muddied on this but one thing is all too clear - the 2004 legislation which means inquiries operate in a way that limits transparency must be reformed if not repealed.