The very Catholic Republic of Ireland—also known as the Island of Saints and Scholars, where abortion remains illegal and more than 30% of the people go to mass more than once a week—has decided to close its embassy to the Vatican. Yes, there has been a lot of tension since the sexual abuse scandals and Ireland is strapped for cash (the NYT notes Eire is closing embassies in East Timor and Iran also), but don’t the Irish remember how St. Patrick took care of their snake problem?It’s not all bad news for Catholics in the British Isles. On the other side of the Irish Sea, the coalition government recently reached an agreement with the other countries for whom the Windsors serve as heads of state to amend the Act of Settlement that barred British monarchs and their potential heirs from marrying supporters of Rome.Moderate Protestantism used to be Britain’s way of asserting its independence and nationhood against continental Europe just as Catholicism used to be Ireland’s way of defining itself against their apostate British overlords. Britain hasn’t lost any of its desire to be British and Ireland wants to be as Irish as ever, but religion seems less closely linked to identity on both sides of the water. If this trend continues, look for Northern Ireland to join the South.Via Meadia is OK with both decisions. The Irish ambassador to Italy can handle any diplomatic business with the Holy See, and by the time the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have kids who reach marrying age I suspect that the British will be able to handle the prospect of Papists spouses hovering near the throne.
Apocalypse Watch: Ireland Closes Vatican Embassy, UK To Allow Catholic Royals