Ireland: The faithful are losing faith in the Catholic Church

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Sean Brady.

According to a survey of 1,000 Irish people published by the Iona Institute, 28% of the Irish have a “very unfavorable” view of the Church and 19% a “mostly unfavorable” view.  Only 8% have a “very favorable” view, while 16% of them have a “mostly favorable” one.  Finally, the French daily newspaper La Croix reported on November 3 that 25% of Irish people say they have “no opinion” on the subject.

The pedophilia scandals that have shaken Ireland since 2008 are the main cause of this negative perception of the Church.  56% of respondents attribute their loss of trust to the abuse committed by members of the clergy and 18% to the cover up by the hierarchy.  23% cite the history and structure of the Church as a cause of mistrust. Consequently, only 46% of Irish agree that Church teachings are beneficial to Irish society (50% of women versus 43% of men and only 33% among 15-24 year olds).  Moreover, 23% of respondents would actually be happy if the Church disappeared from the country.

La Croix notes that the most interesting lesson to be learned from this study is the Irish people’s perception of the sexual abuse scandal.  69% of them greatly overestimate the number of priests guilty of abuse.  While the most reliable studies report that only of 4% of priests are suspected of pedophilia, 27% of respondents estimate this number to be between 6% and 20%, while 24% place it between 20% and 50%, and 18% place it at more than 50%.

Yet 69% of Irish define themselves as Catholic.  44% say they practice their faith regularly, with 30% attending Mass weekly.

On July 13, 2011, a 400-page report on sexual abuse committed in the diocese of Cloyne, in the south, was made public.  It accused 19 priests of committing abuse during a period from 1996 to 2009.  On July 20, Prime Minister Enda Kenny strongly condemned the Vatican for its responsibility in these cases.  Three other investigations of sexual abuse in the dioceses of Ferns (Wexford), Dublin, and within various institutions, are currently underway. (Sources: apic / lacroix / DICI No. 245 of 25/11/11)

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