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The Incredible Shrinking (Irish) Catholic Church

How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?:
Now this question probably seems a bit pointless for a blog. Canít you just Google the answer and be done? According to the 2011 Census, 3,861,335 people or 84% of the population of the Republic described themselves as Catholics. This figure is often used to describe Ireland as a Catholic country and to defend the role of religion in Irish society, ranging from Church control of the vast majority of schools, whether abortion should be kept illegal or the religious references in the Constitution (if you donít know, the opening line is: ďIn the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referredĒ). But if Irish people are overwhelming Catholic, then it seems obvious that Ireland would have a strong Catholic ethos.

The problem is that few Catholics are actually Catholic. Sure most people will call themselves Catholic, but when actually asked about religion, surprisingly few actually hold Catholic beliefs or practice their religion ... only 70% of people surveyed described themselves as Catholic, a large drop from the beginning. Of these, only 30% attended Mass on a weekly basis. When only 30% of people carry out the basic requirement of their religion, you can assume they must not place a very high value on it.

It gets worse. Only 27% of described Catholics have a favourable view of the Catholic Church, while 47% have a negative view. Only 8% have a very favourable view. When almost a majority of members of an organisation have a negative view of it, then you know it is in dire trouble. Only 46% believe Catholic teaching is of benefit, with 31% disagreeing. 23% of Catholics would be happy if the Church disappeared from Ireland, only 51% disagreeing. It is incredible that a large minority of a group actually want the organisation they are a part of to disappear ... It gets even worse when examining Catholic teachings. On pretty much every belief that separates Catholicism from Protestantism, Irish Catholics disagree with the Churchís teachings.

† †72% believe that married men should be allowed to become priests,
† †77% believe women should be allowed to become priests and 87% believe priests should be allowed to get married.
† †75% of people believe the Churchís teachings on sexuality are irrelevant.
† †61% disagree with the Churchís position on homosexuality while only 18% believe that homosexuality is immoral.
† †87% believe divorced people in a new relationship should be allowed Communion.

On the core principle diving Catholics from Protestants, 62% of Catholics said they believe the Communion is symbolic (the Protestant view) and only a quarter believed it was the literal blood and flesh of Jesus (the Catholic view). In the wake of this, one blogger aptly pointed out that most Catholics are Protestants ... When it comes to making decisions, 78% follow their own conscience while 17% follow Church teaching. If the Catholic Church were an organisation like any other there would be a few basic beliefs necessary for membership. After all, why would you be a member of something you lacked the core beliefs. Yet even in spiritual terms, if there was a test to become a Catholic, most people who call themselves Catholics would fail. In fact, a large number wouldnít even count as Christian.

A survey found that:

   23% of Irish Catholics donít believe in Heaven,
   24% donít believe in Sin,
   28% donít believe in life after death,
   50% donít believe in Hell.

My favourite is the 10% of Catholics who donít believe in God. Thatís right, there are people who call themselves Catholics and donít follow the very first rule of any religion. The rest donít fare too much better. Only 57% believe in a personal God, with 25% opting for a spiritual or life force. So barely half of Catholics believe in a God that even vaguely resembles Catholic teaching.

None of that is surprising when you consider the hold Catholicism had over Ireland before Vatican ll. There was not much in the way of flexibility, love or mercy. The Irish were scared of the church which often didnt help those in need.

Though there are less practising Catholics in present day Ireland it is a healthier society and the Church, and clergy, are better for it. More genuine, sincere. Forum Index -> Christian chat
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