RENUA Ireland leader cllr. John Leahy has called on Leo Varadkar to move swiftly to fulfil his promise to build a new and more mature relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish State.

Mr Leahy said;

‘’Mr Varadkar’s words are welcome and we hope they are more than words.

Since this man took office Catholics have felt like an oppressed minority.

Many are now, for the first time since the Penal Days, afraid to disclose their Catholicism to friends and employers.

The Phoenix Park mass indicates how deep the roots of faith are.

That faith, the faith of the people not prelates, should be respected.

Instead, for political convenience, Mr Varadkar has turned the church into a scapegoat for disgraces all society are guilty of.

There can be no doubt the church has committed grave sins.

The Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse are stains on the church that no amount of apologies can erase.

We should also though be clear that the state colluded in keeping people in dark corners, behind closed doors and cries of help that went unheard.

And the state, too often still, when it comes to the abuse of citizens and children plays a similar role.

The current attack on the church for historical sins sits ill when coming from the lips of an administration that stands idly by, makes false promises and pretends it does not know about current scandals such as Cervical Check.

Mr Varadkar is correct in saying there can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate the abuse.

But that must apply to every-one and every institution of the state.

We are a changing state and a warmer more understanding country.

Tolerance however cuts both ways.

The fundamentalist style rage with which the church is being excised from communities, hospitals and schools by a Dublin based elite suggests that this is not the mood of Mr Varadkar.

The church has committed many sins, but the punishment should be visited upon the faithful.

Those who have faith do not only feel excluded and alienated from the Church.

They also feel excluded from a state which treats them as the enemy within.

It’s time Mr Varadkar practised what he preaches and engages in real dialogue with the church and those who remain within the faith.

Only then can we rebuild a genuine Concordat that will allow both the state and church to thrive … independently’’.