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?