Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Catholicism in Ireland (Part 3)

Just some final reflections from having read the Irish Times series on the Catholic Church in Ireland.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll found that just 26% of Irish Catholics believed that bread and wine were transformed into the body and blood of Christ at consecration in the Mass.  Commenting on this poll, fundamentalist atheist Richard Dawkins suggested that, "If they don't believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics ... If they are honest they should say that they are no longer Roman Catholics."  He suggested that this survey "should come in for a fair degree of ridicule ... I wouldn't hold back on the ridicule."

Commenting on the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, Fr. Tom O'Connor explains that, "In '32, it was very much a national celebration as well as an occasion for the church.  We were 11 years into independence and there was a whole triumphant aspect that does not appeal to people any more."  Interestingly, loyalists in Belfast, Lurgan, Portadwon and Lisburn showed a spirit of kindness (NOT!) as they attacked buses and trains carrying people to Eucharist celebrations in '32.

The average age of a priest in Ireland is 64, although the retirement age is 75.  Last year just six men were ordained to the priesthood in Ireland. 

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