Ireland closes Vatican embassy


CHURCH-state relations hit a new low last night after the Government revealed it is shutting down the embassy in the Vatican.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny attracted worldwide attention four months ago when he criticised the Vatican for failing to co-operate fully with state inquiries into the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Yesterday, he and his Cabinet decided to shut down the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome to save up to €700,000 per year.

They claim it is due to a cost saving exercise, but I for one find the reasons to be open to debate.

But in a period of financial turmoil, economy might be a perfect reason, or excuse, for other governments to take similar steps. This has happened before. In 1867, the United States wanted to retaliate for Pius IX's alleged support to the Confederates, and the Union government simply cut off funds for the then Vatican legation (there wasn't yet an embassy). Here is the second nightmare: a potential "domino effect", underlining the failure of the Vatican in handling the sex abuse cases.

Now wouldnt that be fun to watch!

Aha, justice on a cosmic scale; hurt them where it counts for them, their wallet!

How does this hurt their wallet? If it saves the Irish 700,000 euros, it presumably saves the Vatican a similar amount, unless they intend to keep their mission in Ireland open. Usually, when a country breaks off diplomatic relations it’s a two-way street. The people who are putting a slight, if minuscule, dent in the Vatican wallet are the rape victims who are instituting class action suits against the Church.

Slight direct dent, but the whole scandal over the last few decades has cost them a massive bundle in terms of general support, which must translate to a significant loss of income for the whole church establishment.

When I said this I was referring to the closure of the Vatican legation not the rape scandals, whose effect on the church is extremely difficult to quantify. There are some interesting statistics here, but they are hard to interpret. For example, I don’t know why some priests are religious priests and some aren’t; it is surely too much to hope that the Catholic Church employs atheist priests? Or perhaps some priests are just there for the pederasty and take no part in, for example, leading mass.

I’m not sure that actually follows. Firstly, in Roman Catholicism apostasy is a mortal sin, which means that a Cardinal or even the Pope himself must absolve you if you are guilty. As a Protestant, it is easy to leave a church you don’t like and to join another. As a Roman Catholic, your options are either sticking with the RCC or renouncing your faith, and your run-of-the-mill Roman Catholic has been browbeaten into being very afraid of falling into disfavour with the RCC. Secondly, even to this day among the RCC’s major sources of revenue are tithes (which many countries’ governments collect, usually as a “church tax”). In most cases, the only way to avoid paying these fees is to renounce your faith, which means committing the mortal sin of apostasy. There hasn’t been a marked increase in such renunciations, even in Europe where one might expect it to happen most and soonest, probably for fear of forsaking one’s mortal soul — to be sure, a cleverly-engineered subterfuge of the RCC that assures it of an ongoing income stream.

The short of it is that Roman Catholics are under their church’s thumb for life with much disincentive to escape, and so they just carry on funding it pretty much regardless of what it does. While the tide may be turning, it’s just too slow and gradual to really affect the RCC at present.


Tongue in cheek mate. I couldn’t find the emoticon for that.