Catholic morals were deeply embedded in Irish society by the theocracy from which Ireland is only now beginning to shake itself loose. Since the middle of the nineteeth century, the Catholic Church took on those responsibilities of the state that were surrendered by England, primarily those concerning education and health.
The Church’s position was solidified after Irish independence, and while the 1937, Constitution granted freedom of religion, it also recognised the “special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church.” Catholicism and nationalism were tightly linked in the struggle for Irish freedom.
The dominion of the Catholic Church led to the culture of silence around the torture, rape and slavery of children and women by religious congregations and clerics. It was only in the 1970s, with the rise of feminism and freer economic policies, that the iron fist of the Catholic Church loosened around the collective neck of the Irish people.
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