How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?

Now this question probably seems a bit pointless for a blog. Can’t 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 don’t know, the opening line is: “In 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 referred”). But if Irish people are overwhelming Catholic, then it seems obvious that Ireland would have a strong Catholic ethos. Continue reading “How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?”

In Memory Of Ann Lovett

Thirty years ago today, a 15 year old girl died giving birth alone in a grotto beneath a statue to the Virgin Mary. The scandal shocked conservative Ireland and cast light on a darker side of Ireland. An Ireland where to be unmarried and pregnant was a deep shame to be kept hidden. An Ireland where girls were forced to keep children they didn’t want and couldn’t raise. An Ireland where the judgement of the Church was to be feared. An Ireland where narrow minded dogma was held above the suffering of women. An Ireland where Mary was no protection for many girls abandoned and neglected by society. Continue reading “In Memory Of Ann Lovett”

The Future Of Religion

The religions of the world are in serious decline. Each generation is less religious than the last and the grip of the Church is being steadily weakened. Ireland used to be the most religious country in Europe, yet even here religion is being eroded away. The simple fact is that religion’s future is one of decline into insignificance as the older generations die off and young fail to take their place. Churches are facing a crisis in even finding members to join as priests and the closing of churches will soon be a common sight. Within 50 to 100 years religion will be but a shadow of what it once was, a mere footnote belonging to a forgotten time. Continue reading “The Future Of Religion”

Legacy Of The Catholic Church

It is said that when Ireland received its independence from Britain in 1921 it handed it over to the Catholic Church. For the next seven decades the Church dominated Irish life and shaped it to suit its teachings. While Ireland never became a theocracy, it came pretty close. Irish politicians of all parties declared their loyalty to the Church and gave the hierarchy unquestioned influence over policy. Politicians declared themselves Catholics first and Irishmen second. And what was the result of this influence? A stagnant society dominated by narrow mindedness sectarian pettiness. A socially suffocating society where all common sense and flexibility was abandoned in place of rigid dogma. An authoritarian atmosphere where all signs of modernity were repressed. Where brutality was condoned and ignored and unimaginable cruelty was shown to women and children, the extent of which is only coming to light now. This is the legacy of the church. Continue reading “Legacy Of The Catholic Church”

The A, B, C, D And X Of Abortion In Ireland

Ireland has the most peculiar relationship with abortion in the world. You see, in Ireland we pretend it doesn’t exist. Abortion is something to be ignored at all costs and unlike in most other countries, it is almost completely absent from the political discourse. Abortion is more or less (more on that) completely illegal and in fact the constitution contains an amendment (passed in 1983) that guarantees the “right to life of the unborn” which has an “equal right to life” as the mother. This doesn’t mean abortions don’t take place, they do, but in secret or in England. However, whether we like it or not abortion has exploded onto the political stage and we are going to finally have to deal with the problem that many wish would just disappear. Continue reading “The A, B, C, D And X Of Abortion In Ireland”

The Magdalene Laundries

Yet another relic of Ireland’s dark and disturbing past has come to light. We are haunted by yet another example of abuse and exploitation by the Catholic Church that went unchallenged for decades. This is the Magdalene Laundries, centres of shame run by nuns from the foundation of the State in 1922 until 1996. A new report has been released detailing the plight of the inmates. Here women were detained and forced to work inhumane hours for no pay. The stigma of being in a Magdalene Laundry was so great that most never spoke if it and left the country. More than 10,000 women were forced to work in essentially labour camps that many have described as slave labour. It is an injustice that forces us all to hang our heads in shame. Continue reading “The Magdalene Laundries”