Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Catholicism in Ireland (part 2)

Before we moved to Limerick we looked at some houses with the thought of buying.  One of the things that struck us was that the evidence of Catholicism could still be seen.  In a couple of the homes we viewed there were such things as holders for holy water.  Then there was another phenomenon.  In at least one house there was no remnants of Catholicism but there was a picture to do with angels (it is notable that this was the home of a young family).  Just look through the bookstores and you will see the massive interest there is in angels.

Last week the Irish Times did a week long report on Catholicism in Ireland.  It was fascinating reading. 

Perhaps I have become so accustomed to hearing about the decline in Catholicism in Ireland that I was not surprised to hear that only 34% of Catholics in the Republic of Ireland attend mass at least once a week.  I actually thought that figure was quite high.  After all, a further 8% attend at least once a fortnight and a further 11% attend more than once a month.  That means that 52% of those claiming to be Catholic in Ireland should have been at mass in the last month.  However, the figures are a bit grim for Dublin and with regards to the young.  Only 13% of Catholics aged 18-24 attend mass at least once a week.

Nearly 2/3s of over 65s attend mass once a week; urban catholics are only half as likely as rural catholics to go to mass; and the most likely to go to mass at least once a week are working class women who are over 65 from the Connacht/Ulster area and vote Fianna Fail. 

But what do Catholics believe?  Well, 8% of those Catholics who were surveyed said that they didn't believe in God (which makes a mockery of calling yourself a Catholic).  Only 44% of Catholics over 65 (the most devote group) said that they believed in transubstantiation, and only 18% of those in the 25-34 age group do.  While 83% of those questioned believe there is a heaven only a half believe there is a hell.  87% of those claiming to be Catholics believe that priests should be allowed marry.  I also learned that the idea of a-la-carte Catholicism is also referred to a 'canteen' Catholicism.

But what about the young eleven year old, who had just been confirmed, and spoke about his faith in the Saturday (2nd June) issue.  He said
I believe in guardian angels and that they are looking out for us.  I have one.  He's a boy because I am a boy.  He has wings and he'd be very small.  He's sitting on my shoulder now.
Does such Catholicism reflect the old or the new and is it as much new-age as Christian?

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