The Irish Catholic church is a special example of absolute and absolutely corrupted power.
Never occupied by the Romans, Ireland developed a Catholicism that is unique and was until just a few years ago uniquely powerful.
Beatings in Catholic schools (and, often, at home too if your parents found out about it) were normal. People my age tell horrific stories, and every one of them has a similar story to tell.
It was not until the Bishop Casey "scandal" in 1992 that anybody even dared question the power of the clergy or the "Christian Brothers" (church-affiliated school-teachers.) Casey got a woman pregnant. Even the old folks and the people who think he was a scumbag for the way he treated her now realize what a petty scandal that was. But concensus is that the decline began there.
The depth of the sickness within the autocratic organization is now coming to light, and the church is in free-fall. And "not before time" none too soon.
Abortion is still illegal, though; a throwback to a more primitive time two decades ago.