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O Tempora O Mores

Times change.

On Sunday, the Pope announced that the next Eucharistic Congress, planned for 2012, would take place in Ireland.

The last time the congress came to Dublin, in 1932, the event was a showcase for the newly independent Catholic state.

A reputed one in four of the population travelled to the capital on pilgrimage for the final Mass in the Phoenix Park.

Ireland has changed. This time, the crowds will be much smaller.

Five years after the Congress, Ireland adopted Bunreacht na hÉireann, a constitution with recognised the ‘special position’ of the Catholic church.

The article wasn’t amended until 1973, our fifth amendment.

So to ‘plead the fifth’ in Ireland means disavowing religious influence over the State.

Today, the government published plans to provide civil partnerships for gay couples.

It’s not gay marriage, because the same Bunreacht that once recognised the Catholic church has things to say about marriage.

And it’s not quite what every gay couple wants either.

In particular, the proposal doesn’t guarantee the rights of couples raising children.

But although it is not quite a rose, even by another name, its still a lot more than the Catholic church – and others – want to see.

Times change.