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.
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.”
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.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment