"In a secularised Europe, with the numbers of the Catholic faithful shrinking dramatically and a worsening economic situation, the whispered question from some governments is: is it still worthwhile, politically and economically, keeping an embassy to the Holy See? Here, in western Europe, the heart of Christianity, the crisis of Catholicism is an impressive one. Even in Germany, the pontiff's heartland, in 2010 for the first time the number of Catholics who left the church was higher than that of baptisms: 181,193 left Catholicism, 170,000 were baptised.
More generally, state-church relations are painfully strained. And the pressure of public opinion to take a tougher stance against the Vatican is expected to grow in coming months: the Irish case is there as an alarm call. Such a trend could lead, if not to shutting some embassies down, to the downgrading of their status and financial and political weight. In some ways, it has happened already with the US embassy to the Holy See, a traditional vanguard of western developments".