An Irish epigram, on unworthy priests

After the revelations of clerical sex abuse in Ireland (and many other places!) this Irish epigram would seem to apply:

Sagairt óir is cailis chrainn
bhí le linn Phádraig in Éirinn;
sagairt chrainn is cailís óir
i ndeireadh an domhain dearóil.

Thomas Kinsella’s translation (from An Duainaire, a bilingual anthology):

Gold priests, wooden chalices
in Ireland in Patrick’s time.
Golden chalices, wooden priests,
as the wretched world stands now.

That Irish verse dates back to about the 17th century, so  complaints about the clergy are not new.

I’m glad to say that I have known some of the gold priests.  Too bad about the other kind.


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