The north-central Irish Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has suffered the tragic loss of its 150-year old cathedral yesterday morning in what may have been an act of arson. Just a few hours after the bishop celebrated Midnight Mass, the fire broke out. By the time it was extinguished the beautiful interior was completely gutted. Of course, it’s too soon to know yet what caused the fire, but given the turmoil still at a fever pitch of shock and anger in Ireland over the recently revealed devastating report of clergy sexual abuse (with a number of bishops resigning in disgrace over it) the possibility of arson is certainly plausible. I pray for my Irish Catholic brethren as they are hit by this new and unexpected blow.
UPDATE: The origin of this fire is being actively investigated, according to this U.K. source, and the possibility that it was caused by arson (perhaps in retaliation against the Catholic Church in Ireland because of the recent sex-scandal report)
is also being widely discussed.