From the pews and pulpits, Ireland’s Catholics are demanding that the Vatican finally come clean on its oversight role in child abuse cover-ups.

It’s a revolution of sorts in Ireland, a nation founded on a pillar of devotion to Roman Catholicism, where many now question the church’s role in a rapidly changing society. For decades Irish leaders let archbishops vet proposed laws, declared they were Catholics first and Irishmen second, and saw crossing the church as a surefire way to lose office.

No longer.

The Irish are broadly lauding this week’s thunderbolt from Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who denounced the Vatican’s role in the past 17 years of abuse scandals. He accused the Holy See of downplaying “the rape and torture of children” and hiding behind its status as a sovereign state with its own secrecy-obsessed canon laws.

Astonished cabbies pulled off the road to watch the unprecedented speech on their smartphones. Victims of clerical sexual abuse, who have spent two decades trying to be heard and believed, cheered a day they thought would never come.

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