Ireland abandoning religion fast


If there is one film cliché that comes to mind about the Republic of Ireland, it is that of the gruff but good-hearted Irish Catholic priest. So strongly is that country linked with the church that this news report that a global survey on faith reveals that Ireland is abandoning religion faster than almost every other country world, second only to Vietnam, is worth noting.

An overwhelming 69% of Irish people declared themselves to be “a religious person” in the last survey conducted in 2005, but this has now plummeted to 47%.

Other polls add to the story of a church in decline, a process accelerated by the numerous scandals that have rocked the church there and has led even leading politicians to voice harsh criticisms.

This was most strikingly demonstrated last year when, in an unprecedented attack, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny shrugged off decades of political deference.

He declared: “The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation.” He denounced “elitism, disconnection, dysfunction and narcissism in the Vatican.”

If leading politicians are saying things like this, it should not be surprising if regular citizens take an even dimmer view of the church.

David Quinn, a staunch defender of the faith who heads the Iona Institute, said the findings indicated a significant amount of hostility towards institutional religion. He said this and other polls had found that a quarter of those surveyed “would be happy if the church vanished from Ireland completely.”

Previous polling has indicated that a majority of Irish Catholics are strikingly out of line with the Vatican’s attitude on issues such as priestly celibacy and the introduction of women priests. Almost 90 per cent believe that priests should be free to marry, with over 70 per cent saying they believe married men should be ordained.

This must be causing extreme concern in the Vatican. But not to worry, Papa Ratzi knows exactly how to deal with this.

Rome’s reaction to criticism from Irish priests has been authoritarian. One priest with liberal views was ordered to a monastery to “pray and reflect” while another was prohibited from writing on such issues.

After all, that policy of cracking down seems to be working so well with the US nuns.

Comments

  1. astro says

    I’ve never seen this brought up per Ireland’s accelerated abandoning of the church, but I imagine that all of those awful years of the IRA and the Catholic/ Protestant bruhaha was the begininng of this exodus.

  2. says

    …One priest with liberal views was ordered to a monastery to “pray and reflect” while another was prohibited from writing on such issues.

    Sounds like Maoism, where the standard remedy for dissent was “criticism and self-criticism” and isolation of literate dissenters from the public discourse.

  3. says

    I’ve never seen this brought up per Ireland’s accelerated abandoning of the church, but I imagine that all of those awful years of the IRA and the Catholic/ Protestant bruhaha was the begininng of this exodus.

    Being half Protestant and half Catholic* is one reason I’m an atheist – I got tired of spontaneously catching fire for being a walking piece of blasphemy every time I entered a church.

    *We’re from Dublin, which may have something to do with my parents getting away with marriage in the mid 80s. That, and they’re atheists as well.

  4. says

    I don’t know how much of it’s the sectarian violence and how much of it is the RCC’s cavalier attitude toward child abuse. The latter has gotten the RCC some terrible (deservedly so!) bad press, and the RCC’s “FUCK YOU!” response doubled it down.

    I think that a certain amount of what’s going on is “no, fuck *you*!” in response. That’ll only accelerate if parents are (rightly) scared to put their kids in the hands of RCC schools and sunday schools.

    RCC’s marketing: not so brilliant.

  5. lpetrich says

    As to the dramatic decline of religion in Ireland, it seems to be a case of reduced social pressure to list oneself as a Catholic. Thus, many of the Irish people leaving the Catholic Church may be leaving it because they feel that it’s socially safe to do so.

    I’m reminded of the fall of Communism in eastern Europe – it was remarkably fast. If you had asked me early in 2009 whether Eastern European Communism was likely to continue for at least the next few decades, but a year later, the Communist regimes of Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were all gone, and over the next few years, the Communist regimes of Albania, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union also fell. By the early 1990’s, Communism was gone from eastern Europe.

  6. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    “Between 7 and 28 October, bishops from throughout the West gather in the Vatican. The idea here is that during a synod the main outline for the New Evangelization of the West, “said Fisichella. After the synod, the pope in a “Apostolic Exhortation” (a letter from the pontiff addressed to the Church, ed) the plan decrees in casting. The aim is no less than the godless West to get back to god. ”

    So they are going to go back out and convert the godless heathens, apparently

  7. MNb0 says

    Main points per alinea:
    RCC is sick of its declining credibility and the declining belief in god.
    Archbishop RS Fisichella is in charge of a counteroffensive to turn around the crisis and has huge plans.
    In october bishops from all over Europe will gather in a synode, which will result in an official papal letter. The aim is no less than bringing godless Europe back to god.
    Some bla bla about unselfish selfsacrifice of nuns and priests all over the world.
    According to F the crisis is also a time of judgment, purification and adjustment.
    Last month F in Poland called for the search for new evangelists.

  8. left0ver1under says

    I can’t recall the exact words, but there used to be a saying about catholics. It went something like:

    “Rome dictates it, Ireland obeys it, and __________ ignores it.” (France, maybe?)

    It’s sounding more and more like the vatican is talking to itself. And the less people listen, the more ridiculous the rules become.

  9. Brian Faux says

    “Rome dictates it..

    Old saying about the EEC, The Germans make the rules, the British keep the rules, the French twist the rules, the Italians ignore the rules.

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