April 17, 2005

Catholicism Losing Ground in Ireland

Los Angeles Times

By John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer

MAYNOOTH, Ireland The black-and-white class portraits arrayed along the nearly deserted corridor of the seminary at St. Patrick's College here tell the tale.

Year by year, the group of graduating seminary students gets smaller. Slowly, the number of young men willing to replenish the priesthood of the once-mighty Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is shrinking. In the future, the priests celebrating Mass in the Emerald Isle's churches may well be from South America or Africa, not Cork or Kerry.

Overwhelmed by a tide of secularism and economic prosperity, challenged by a new mood of independence in the population and devastated by a decade of scandals involving serial child abuse by clerics, the Catholic Church in Ireland finds itself demoralized, almost in shock.

"Irish Catholicism as we knew it in Ireland is gone," said Patsy McGarry, religious affairs writer for the Irish Times.

Posted by kshaw at April 17, 2005 04:05 AM