DUBLIN -- An international conference celebrating Roman Catholicism opened Sunday against a backdrop of anger over child-abuse cover-ups and evidence of declining faith in core church beliefs.

About 12,000 Catholics, many from overseas, gathered for an open-air Mass in a half-full Dublin stadium at the start of the Eucharistic Congress, a weeklong event held by the Vatican every four years. The global gathering, begun in the 19th century and last held in Quebec in 2008, highlights the church's belief in transubstantiation, the idea that bread and wine transforms during Mass into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

A poll found that two-thirds of Irish Catholics don't believe it, nor do they attend Mass weekly.

The survey, published in The Irish Times with an error margin of 3 points, also found that just 38 percent believe Ireland today would be in worse shape without its dominant church. Such views reflect rapid secularization and alienation with the church in Ireland, where church and state once were tightly intertwined. -- AP

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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