In the FT Weekend, Arthur Beesley returns to Ireland to look at the state of the Catholic church on the eve of the visit of the Pope and the memories of JP2 in 1979:
As for that first splendid papal visit, [Mark Patrick] Hederman suggests that, rather than some kind of a high-water mark for Catholicism, it can now be seen more as an act of self-preservation by church leaders. "The hierarchy knew this was in decline, and so John Paul II was brought in as a kind of last-ditch stand to stop the dyke from bursting. So it wasn't as if it was a triumphalist display of Catholic Ireland at its zenith. It was that they knew."