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Thread: The end of Catholic power & influence in Ireland

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    Default The end of Catholic power & influence in Ireland

    The Catholic Church has long been one of the most powerful and influential organisations in Ireland. Its influence has been

    • on people
    • on policy makers
    • on institutions
    • on the law
    • on culture

    The extent of the power has not always been as strong as presumed - despite its opposition to Parnell, many Irish people remained Parnellites. Cardinal Cullen's attempt to establish a Catholic party in the 1870s was an embarrassing failure. Large numbers of Irish people ignored it on the civil war, and on the Spanish Civil War, where de Valera openly rejected Catholic Church pressure that he back Franco. Attempts by Catholics to have the constitution declare Catholicism the state religion failed, and Church horror at the constitution recognising the Church of Ireland, various Protestant Churches and the Jewish Community didn't stop de Valera including such recognition in the constitution. More recently, the public have voted in ways that contradicted the advice of Catholic bishops on referenda, and the state ignored Catholic pressure when choosing to allow contraception and decriminalise homosexuality. But the Church still possessed an extraordinary degree of power and influence, getting its way at least 70% of the time.

    While Churchmen talk a lot about "faith" and the faith of people, in reality faith is a product of trust. People trusted the Church sufficiently to enable it to influence their beliefs and perspectives, and to shape their faith. The problem for the Church is that more than anything else the crisis today has shattered people's trust in it and its ordained ministers. Most people's faith may survive, but will not be passed on or constructed as Church control in all aspects of their lives is weakened dramatically. From schools to lifestyles, Church influence is set to plummet, and with that its ability to control and infleunce the belief systems of the next generation.

    Without a popular base of support, in practice Catholicism is likely to be marginalised increasingly as the institution finds itself appealing onto to a smaller minority of the population. That in turn will fatally undermine its political clout, as less of the next generation of politicians will be members of its faithful. In the past even non-religious politicians were willing to pretend to be "good Catholics" and take seriously Catholic Church demands in case they were attacked and undermined by the majority of Irish people who were not merely born Catholic but active Catholics.

    Ultimately I suspect that the Catholic Church will find itself in Ireland relegated to the powerless of the Church of England in England or the Catholic Church in France. Like them it will find itself, as the once all-powerful influencer of opinions, now relegated to the fringes, ministering to a dwindling minority of believers who carry little clout or public impact.

    It is arguable that modern Catholicism and its power originated in the Cullenite reforms of the mid to late 19th century. It is arguable also that that power, and that era, died with the publication of the details of clerical abuse in Dublin in 2009. Catholicism, I suspect, will continue to exist but as a fringe group ministering to a relatively small proportion of Irish people, with the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of their leaders, having moved into a post-Catholic age.
    "In [Ireland] a wife is regarded as a chattel, just as a thoroughbred mare or cow." Mr Justice Butler in the Irish courts. 'Traditional Marriage' in the 1970s.

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    Hope you're right, and that whatever fills the vacuum left by the imploding Catholic Church isn't even worse.

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    Catholicism, I suspect, will continue to exist but as a fringe group ministering to a relatively small proportion of Irish people, with the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of their leaders, having moved into a post-Catholic age.
    Sounds like the Church for me.

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    I will start hoping that the OP might be right when the Min for Education announces that the bishops have been removed from their position of patronage of schools, that RCC doctrine will no longer be taught in state schools and that same schools will play no further role in preparation of kids for RCC rituals.
    I will be further convinced when I see sensible legislation on abortion and same-sex marriage, and a declaration by a government that all future social legislation will be designed to reflect the needs of a pluralist, secular society, and that the expressed "official" views of any or all religious organisations on such issues will be ignored.
    It would also help my belief that we have converted from a church-state to a secular society if, when I next go to complete some official form and look for who needs to witness that form, or testify to my character, the clergyman option has been deleted.
    Until then, sorry - I am not optimistic

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    Firstly Tommy, I can see the usual suspects saying that this is yet another anti-Catholic thread, which I don't see it to be.

    For the end of Catholic power and influence in Ireland to take place, it is necessary for the people to, as it were, shed that skin of Catholicism that judges, that tries to control, that divides, that is without compassion, that doesn't exhibit humility. This country has been so influenced by Catholicism that it truly is like shedding a skin that is part of the Irish identity. That process isn't easy and will take a lot of 'growing up' on every individual's part.

    I think this process begun, in 'small' ways, 30 to 40 years ago, but the move away from the dictatorial Church has been ongoing. And now the authority of the Church, as we knew it, in this country is in tatters.

    The Church has to reform and go back to its founding principles. But that also will be a long and painful process.
    The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honour of one is the honour of all.

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    Well, it was John A Costello who said he was a catholic first and an Irishman second,

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    Quote Originally Posted by turdsl View Post
    Well, it was John A Costello who said he was a catholic first and an Irishman second,
    He may well have said that, too, but I think it was Brendan Corish of Labour who said he was a Catholic first, an Irishman second, and a socialist last.

    I guess it was one of those rare occasions when a politician actually spoke the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyO'Brien View Post
    Catholicism, I suspect, will continue to exist but as a fringe group ministering to a relatively small proportion of Irish people, with the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of their leaders, having moved into a post-Catholic age.
    Are you confusing Catholicism with Fine Gaelism, perhaps?...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyO'Brien View Post
    The Catholic Church has long been one of the most powerful and influential organisations in Ireland. Its influence has been

    • on people
    • on policy makers
    • on institutions
    • on the law
    • on culture

    The extent of the power has not always been as strong as presumed - despite its opposition to Parnell, many Irish people remained Parnellites. Cardinal Cullen's attempt to establish a Catholic party in the 1870s was an embarrassing failure. Large numbers of Irish people ignored it on the civil war, and on the Spanish Civil War, where de Valera openly rejected Catholic Church pressure that he back Franco. Attempts by Catholics to have the constitution declare Catholicism the state religion failed, and Church horror at the constitution recognising the Church of Ireland, various Protestant Churches and the Jewish Community didn't stop de Valera including such recognition in the constitution. More recently, the public have voted in ways that contradicted the advice of Catholic bishops on referenda, and the state ignored Catholic pressure when choosing to allow contraception and decriminalise homosexuality. But the Church still possessed an extraordinary degree of power and influence, getting its way at least 70% of the time.

    While Churchmen talk a lot about "faith" and the faith of people, in reality faith is a product of trust. People trusted the Church sufficiently to enable it to influence their beliefs and perspectives, and to shape their faith. The problem for the Church is that more than anything else the crisis today has shattered people's trust in it and its ordained ministers. Most people's faith may survive, but will not be passed on or constructed as Church control in all aspects of their lives is weakened dramatically. From schools to lifestyles, Church influence is set to plummet, and with that its ability to control and infleunce the belief systems of the next generation.

    Without a popular base of support, in practice Catholicism is likely to be marginalised increasingly as the institution finds itself appealing onto to a smaller minority of the population. That in turn will fatally undermine its political clout, as less of the next generation of politicians will be members of its faithful. In the past even non-religious politicians were willing to pretend to be "good Catholics" and take seriously Catholic Church demands in case they were attacked and undermined by the majority of Irish people who were not merely born Catholic but active Catholics.

    Ultimately I suspect that the Catholic Church will find itself in Ireland relegated to the powerless of the Church of England in England or the Catholic Church in France. Like them it will find itself, as the once all-powerful influencer of opinions, now relegated to the fringes, ministering to a dwindling minority of believers who carry little clout or public impact.

    It is arguable that modern Catholicism and its power originated in the Cullenite reforms of the mid to late 19th century. It is arguable also that that power, and that era, died with the publication of the details of clerical abuse in Dublin in 2009. Catholicism, I suspect, will continue to exist but as a fringe group ministering to a relatively small proportion of Irish people, with the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of their leaders, having moved into a post-Catholic age.
    Great post.

    Personally I think any organisation that can last pretty much intact for 2000 years has a lot more going for it than is obvious at first sight.

    you talk about the issue of faith and trust. Very well put but there is another more underlying issue; the issue of "need".

    The church as a centre of education, unity, and indeed protection especially for catholics in a protestant empire, we needed the church badly.

    Today the need is not so great. The State has replaced the church in many ways. Education, health and socially the church is not as influential as before.
    The administraters of the church are extremely clever people. They will find the niche "need" and they will fill it.
    I do not know what that need is yet. it may be in the field of poverty aid.

    It remains to be seen...

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    lol its 2009 and the dumb irish still havent entered post christianity yet despite all the rest of europe moving on.
    “if we were forced to choose just one, there would be no way to deny that Judaism is the most important intellectual development in human history.”

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