“How had the Irish Catholic Church gone from being such a powerful political institution in the late 1960s, with 34,000 priests, nuns and brothers, supported by an income of €1 billion per annum, to almost total collapse 40 years later, and having presided over the systemic abuse of thousands of children and its cover-up?” File photograph: Getty

As a young man I worked as a missionary in the Philippines. By 1973 I had departed the Philippines and the priesthood. On return to Ireland I was app(...)