Michael McDowell: ‘No church is entitled to say to the Irish State: ‘Our law is superior to your law.’’ Photograph: Collins Courts

The State “effectively signed a blank cheque” in agreeing the controversial 2002 indemnity deal with 18 religious congregations, the then attorney gen(...)

In Ireland later this month, Pope Francis might explain how, at last, the Vatican plans to get its house in order on the sexual abuse issue. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

It is frequently the case that, though something is strongly suspected to be true, it comes as a shock when it is finally confirmed. Such happened thi(...)

Former minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern. He  told Cardinal  Sodano “on no account could I give such an undertaking and that it was a matter that would have to be decided by the government anyhow”. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Former minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern says a senior Vatican official sought an agreement in 2004 under which Ireland would indemnify the Ca(...)

Former president Mary McAleese. The event in question occurred during a State visit to Italy when she met then Vatican secretary of state Angelo Sodano. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Former president Mary McAleese says she refused to discuss an attempt by the Vatican in 2003 to secure an agreement with Ireland that it would not acc(...)

St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

When Pope Benedict spoke of the face of the Catholic Church being “disfigured”, and when he used the word “filth” about aspects of church life,(...)