An Irish Cardinal predicted the decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland more than 25 years ago, it has emerged.
Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich, the Primate of All Ireland at the time, said vocations were at a crisis point and Mass attendance was plummeting in the cities.
Dublin, he predicted, would soon be "missionary territory" and it would take priests from Africa to reconvert Irish people to their Catholic faith.
The Cardinal felt unable to admit this publicly and instead, in interviews, remained upbeat about the health of the Church.
His comments about the decline were made off the record to a team from RTE's Today Tonight series directed by Gerry Gregg for a programme about the state of the Irish Church.
The Cardinal's predictions were acutely accurate as the Church in Ireland is now laying down plans to allow lay people hold Sunday services because of the shortage of priests.
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