- 04 Sep 18
The visit of Pope Francis to Ireland was hyped as a major deal. But the crowds that turned up at official events were far smaller than anticipated, and controversies abounded. Surely the Church should get the message: the time for complete separation of Church and State has arrived.
Pope Francis has been and gone. In a thousand different ways, his trip to Ireland was a most peculiar event, which inspired a range of conflicting emotions. The vast majority of Irish students probably didn’t care either way. That is a statement in itself.
One thing did become crystal clear, however: in 2018, to a large extent, religion is just another form of showbiz. The Pope is a celebrity. And many of the people who made the effort to see him did so in much the same spirit as others had in the relatively recent past, when they turned out to ogle Queen Elizabeth and Meghan Markle and would tomorrow for Kim Kardashian. There was, it seemed, far less real engagement on the ground in Dublin city, than at the annual Pride march.
On Saturday, the Gardaí put a huge effort into keeping the streets free of traffic, so that the anticipated crowds could line the pavements, on the route along which Pope Francis would travel, without cars impinging on the spectacle. There was only one problem. The crowds didn’t turn up. Dublin has seldom felt so like a ghost town.