A global conference celebrating Roman Catholicism is opening in Ireland against a backdrop of anger over child-abuse cover-ups and evidence of declining faith in core church beliefs.
More than 20,000 Catholics, many from overseas, are attending Sunday's open-air Mass in a Dublin stadium. The Eucharistic Congress, organized every four years in different parts of the world, highlights the church's teaching that bread and wine transforms during Mass into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ.
An opinion poll of Irish Catholics published this month found that two-thirds don't believe this, nor do they attend Mass weekly.
The last time Ireland hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1932, 1 million packed Dublin's Phoenix Park for Mass. This time, Ireland's opening soccer match in the European Championship is dominating public attention.
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