NPR

Pope Ends Visit To A Disillusioned Ireland, Where Church Authority Has Declined

As the pope departed for Rome Sunday night, his visit to Ireland only seemed to reinforce the decline of Roman Catholic authority in a country that was once synonymous with the faith.
Pope Francis arrives as people gather for the Mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday in Dublin. Source: Matt Cardy

Back in 1979, Pope John Paul II arrived in Ireland to an outpouring of love, affection and enormous crowds, including an estimated 1.2 million people for a Mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Among the faithful that day was Carmel Malone.

Nearly four decades later, Malone's daughters brought her in a wheelchair to watch Pope Francis pass through downtown Dublin on Saturday. This time, the crowds were far sparser — only one deep in some places — and there were even some boos from victims of clerical sexual abuse who protested along the road.

"I believe," said

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