Ireland is changing.
Traditionally Catholic Ireland has allowed an atheist group to perform weddings this year for the first time, and the few people certified to celebrate them are overwhelmed by hundreds of couples seeking their services.
Demand for the Humanist Association of Ireland’s secular weddings has surged as the moral authority of the once almighty Catholic Church collapsed in recent decades amid sex abuse scandals and Irish society’s rapid secularization.
Ah not just the sex abuse scandals. Don’t forget the enslavement and brutality scandals; don’t forget the industrial “schools” and the Magdalene laundries.
Until now, those who did not want a religious wedding could have only civil ceremonies. Outside of the registrar’s office, only clergy were permitted to perform weddings.
But statistics show rising demand for non-Church weddings. In 1996, 90 percent of Irish weddings were performed by the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland. But by 2010 that percentage had fallen to 69 percent.
The pent-up demand from those who want more than a civil ceremony in a registry office but reject a religious wedding has created a major backlog for the humanist group’s ceremonies director.
And a seller’s market, apparently.
The law says solemnizers cannot work for profit. Whiteside said he usually asks 450 euros per wedding, although it might be more if long distance travel is involved.
“We don’t have salaries, so we have to have some kind of income,” he said, noting that priests had salaries and used their own churches for weddings.
Hmm. Sounds like profit to me.