Irish Catholics rejecting church doctrine
Vast majority surveyed say Vatican's teachings on sex and marriage are no longer relevant
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Saturday 14 April 2012
Ireland, once regarded as the land of the especially faithful, has become largely disconnected from the previously powerful Roman Catholic church, a survey reveals. An overwhelming majority is in fundamental disagreement with church doctrine, favouring women priests and an end to priestly celibacy.
Three-quarters of Catholics say the church's teachings on sexuality are irrelevant to their lives. Almost 90 per cent believe priests should be allowed to marry while a similar number say divorced or separated people should be allowed to take communion. More than 70 per cent say married men should be ordained. A third of Catholics still attend mass at least once a week. But the survey confirms that most have parted company with the church they were born into, certainly in terms of looking to it for guidance on such matters.
The poll was organised by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), a body with liberal leanings. But there is no sign that the church will make any moves to accommodate its disaffected flock or those priests who are pressing for change. Only last week, Father Tony Flannery, one of the ACP's founders, was silenced by the Vatican because of his views on issues including celibacy, contraception and the ordination of women. He was ordered to a monastery for six weeks to "pray and reflect". He and Father Gerard Moloney, editor of an Irish magazine, are now banned from writing on such issues.
While the influence of the church has been on the wane for several decades, it has plunged particularly in recent years as disclosures of clerical child sexual abuse mounted. The widespread sense that it was slow to react to the revelations brought many complaints that it put the defence of the church above the interests of child victims.
The Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, won strong approval last year when he denounced the church's response as exposing "elitism, disconnection, dysfunction and narcissism in the Vatican". Instead of putting the interests of children first, 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".
The church is having severe difficulty recruiting priests and nuns, so its priesthood is contracting and growing older. One senior cleric who appears out of step with Rome's approach is the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin. He warned recently that the Irish church was in crisis and "at breaking point".
The ACP has forcefully defended the silenced priests, saying Rome's intervention "is of no service to the Irish church and may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant disconnect".
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 2 Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...