Republic of Ireland abandoning religion faster than almost every other country in the world

Worldwide, only Vietnam experienced a greater drop in those describing themselves as religious

The Irish commitment to the Catholic religion is fast draining away, according to a new poll which points to a dramatic plunge in those who regard themselves as religious.

Worldwide, only Vietnam experienced a greater drop in those describing themselves as religious in a poll which extended to 57 countries, covering three-quarters of the world's population.

The survey confirms that Ireland, once regarded as particularly devout, has been almost transformed from the days when the Catholic church exercised both political power and strong social influence.

The church's standing has taken a series of severe blows over the last decade, in particular suffering damage from a series of devastating sex abuse scandals. The sense is widespread that it has reacted sluggishly to the revelations and has been more concerned with defending itself rather than with the interests of victims.

The survey showed that those Irish who considered themselves religious had fallen from 69 per cent in 2011 to less than half today. Ireland was ranked seventh in the 57 countries for those describing themselves as convinced atheists.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin, who has previously warned that the Irish church is in crisis, responded: “The Catholic church cannot simply presume that the faith will automatically be passed from one generation to the next or be lived to the full by its own members.”

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.”

In addition to the sex abuse revelations Ireland has become a much more secular country as the church has lost the religious and political authority it once wielded.

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.”

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.

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor