Anything good in the Guardian?
Harriet Sherwood writes:
Ireland’s last census, in 2011, showed a big rise in the numbers of non-Catholics. Although those identifying themselves as Catholic were still the vast majority of the 4.5m population, more than 6% – 277,000 people – described themselves as atheist, agnostic, lapsed or of “no religion”. The number was an increase of almost 50% since the previous census in 2006; the next census, due in April, is expected to show an even bigger rise.
… A few months ago, the archdiocese of Dublin commissioned research from a global consultancy firm, Towers Watson, to forecast the church’s trajectory over the next 15 years. Its findings made bleak reading for the church, which declined to speak about the report to the Guardian.
Attendances at mass are set to fall by a third between now and 2030, on top of a 20% drop between 2008 and 2014. The church can expect to recruit one new priest under the age of 40 each year. As incumbents retire or die, there is likely to be a fall of up to 70% in the number of working priests, and about three-quarters of those remaining in post will be over the age of 60. The church must consider recruiting priests from other countries and encouraging existing priests to work beyond the age of 75, the report said.
Baptisms were predicted to remain stable, but the report noted that this may be explained by “the preference given to children who are baptised when enrolling in Catholic primary schools. If this requirement is removed at any point prior to 2030, we believe there is likely to be a decline in the number of baptisms each year.”
…Jodie Neary, the mother of 18-month-old unbaptised twins Evyie and Mia, said: “The school system is the last stronghold of the Catholic church in Ireland, so it’s very important to them. I’ve never considered baptising the girls, but I know people who baptise their children just to make sure they can get into the local school. It’s very common.”
… The Guardian spoke to parents who reported children being assigned prayers for homework, given religiously-themed artwork and reading books, taught creationism on nature walks and enlisted in the construction of “prayer stations” with religious icons on school premises. “It’s hard to challenge this – you don’t want to be the parent who turns up every day to argue with the teachers,” said one.
…[Mike McKillen, 72, who teaches bio-chemistry part-time at Trinity College Dublin said:] “The church is no longer in the ascendant. And once we get a system of education that isn’t dependent on religious patronage, its influence will wane further. There is political momentum on this, and the policy makers cannot ignore it any longer.”
Related: Carol Hunt: And The Lesson Today