Wednesday 20 July 2011

'An Unprecedented Juncture'

Enda Kenny says what needs saying (my emphasis):

"The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish  Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture. It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism....the narcissism .......that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.

The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”......the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.
The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est. Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

A day post-publication, the T├ínaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The T├ínaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same. The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican. The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.

...this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world. This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011.

A Republic of laws.....of rights and responsibilities....of proper civic order..... where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version..... of a particular kind of ‘morality’..... will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

...those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation...[w]here the law - their law - as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country....

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.Not purely, or simply or otherwise. CHILDREN.... FIRST."

Tuesday 19 July 2011

A big difference between Irish and American Religosity

A final look at the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference summary of the 2008 European Values Study shows up how religion or lack of it is not an impediment to political office in the Republic of Ireland. This contrasts with the US where presidential hopefuls seem to outvie each other in their declations of religosity (of the right sort, obviously).

The following statements and tables are taken from the summary document:
[Republic of Ireland (ROI); Nothern Ireland (NI)]

‘Politicians who do not believe in God are unfit for public office’

That is, 85% of Irish Catholics in the ROI would not have a problem with an atheist politician. Indeed nearly two-thirds would take exception to you having a problem with that.

‘Religious leaders should not influence government decisions’

 83.2% of Irish Catholics in the ROI either agree or don't have an opinion, with 60% actively believing that the Church should stay out of politics.

'I have my own way of connecting with the Divine without Churches or religious services'
[on a scale of 1 to 5]
This one should give the Church pause and should also make the Establishment realise that the Church does not have the hearts and minds of all those it claims.  Only 13% of Irish Catholics in the ROI rely on the Church for their spiritual guidance while 60% effectively bypass the Church in their relationship with God. These sound more like Protestants than Catholics!

Plastic Catholics

In a previous post I reckoned that roughly 39% of Irish Catholics attended mass weekly, a key part of being a Catholic. Looks like I wasn't too far off the mark. The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference produced in 2010 a document summarising the 2008 European Values Study as it related to the practice of Catholicism in Ireland. It is a fascinating document both for its content and its deadpan tone and the following graphs and tables are taken from it. According to the report 82% of respondents identirfied as Catholic and the stats are based on their responses.

 Some of the other stuff is very interesting. Only half of Irish Catholics believe in Hell and a quarter don't believe in Heaven! A tenth don't even believe in God. I don't remember re-incarnation being part of Catholicism but for a third of Irish Catholics it is...

So what about God? Well in the Republic of Ireland 58% believe in 'Personal God', which skewers the New Religionist claim that God is the 'ground of being' etc.

So how important is God to Irish Catholics on a scale of 1 to 10? While it is definitely skewed to the high end, you have to ask yourself, if you were a good believing Catholic, would you not go all the way to eleven on this question?
Finally, what about prayer? In the Republic, 40% pray every day while about 25% pray less than 'several times a year' or never.

So, in the Republic of Ireland, of those that self-identify as Catholic:
  • Only half believe in Hell
  • Only three-quarters believe in Heaven
  • 10% don't even believe in God (sure that makes them atheists?)
  • A quarter believe in an impersonal God (and 17% either are atheists or don't know what they think)
  • Roughly half pray at least once a week, while about a third are doing well to pray once a year.
Someone with a stats background could do a proper analysis but it strikes me that about half of Irish Catholics perhaps deserve the name and the rest are Plastic Catholics, to borrow a phrase. This why it is important in any discussion on how religious Ireland is to distinguish between cultural Catholics and real Catholics.