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The end of Catholic power & influence in Ireland


TommyO'Brien

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Jan 14, 2009
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12,222
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.
 

reknaw

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3,867
Hope you're right, and that whatever fills the vacuum left by the imploding Catholic Church isn't even worse.:roll::roll::roll:
 

TradCat

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1,992
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.
 
D

Deleted member 17573

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 :(
 

Newsy

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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.
 

turdsl

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26,085
Well, it was John A Costello who said he was a catholic first and an Irishman second,
 

reknaw

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Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
3,867
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.:roll::roll::roll::roll:
 

hiker

Well-known member
Joined
May 9, 2005
Messages
1,961
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...
 
Joined
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12
lol its 2009 and the dumb irish still havent entered post christianity yet despite all the rest of europe moving on.
 

Toland

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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.
I have a little sympathy with that emotional reaction.

It would indeed be funny if it weren't such a tragically late (and as yet very incomplete) conversion.
 

hiker

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Messages
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irish still havent entered post christianity
If I knew what it meant, I might. A lot of psuedo-intellectuals use this "post-etc etc etc" thing in the same way young californian girls use the phrase "thats sooo 2009, like.."

Today is post-yesterday.

You'll have to do better, I'm afraid....
 
Last edited:

Toland

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If I knew what it meant, I might. A lot of psuedo-intellectuals use this "post-etc etc etc" thing in the same way young californian girls use the phrase "thats sooo 2009, like.."

Today is post-yesterday.

You'll have to better, I'm afraid....
Be charitable and interpret it as meaning that the Irish haven't given up christianity yet, like the majority of people on continental Europe have.

I'm not a post-xyz person myself either. It usually means lazy, meaningless categories are being invented and implies that some Hegelian synthesis has been achieved via the "sublation" of some world view or other with another contradictory one.

Jaysus but Hegel has a lot to answer for.
 
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Anyone prepared to now acknowledge that blaming the Church alone (though they well deserve it) is too lazy and convenient. Yes, elements of the Church in this country deserve a horsewhipping for how they have behaved, but is anyone yet going to break the omerta on the slightly inconvenient fact that this sh1t seems to be massively prevalent only in Anglophone Catholicism, particularly Irish-dominated Catholicism, and is relatively rare (I'm not saying it doesn't exist, mark) in Latin America, continental Europe, and so on? Or are we all going to continue to connive in the convenience of a carpet marked 'Church' to sweep the maltreatment of children under, as if the Hispanic priest in central America has as much or more moral responsibility or culpability as a fellow Catholic hierarchy member for the abuse of a kid in rural Ireland than the Guard, the teacher or the parents who ignored or covered up what was going on (if they weren't at it themselves)?

Anyone prepared to acknowledge that there's something culturally sick and far more widespread in our country than is being let on by the media and politicians, and that, while a fair part of the Catholic hierarchy past and present deserves the vilification it is getting (and that includes some at the Vatican) for the covering up and moving around of the abusers, this is a particularly local problem in terms of sheer prevalence and thus indicative of something wrong with us as a culture much more than with just the Church? Or will I just be quiet and stop picking at well-covered sores? Much easier to just assume that I only say these things to deflect blame, therefore there can't be any merit in the argument regardless ...
 

Green eyed monster

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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.
Who is this monolith... 'the people'? A congregation down the country saw a vision of the virgin Mary on a tree stump in a churchyard and even the local priest cannot convince them otherwise (i am not mocking this, merely pointing it out as a fact).

Methinks those toasting the demise of the Roman Catholic Church are celebrating prematurely. Many of the devout will see the abuse scandal as a case of a few bad apples at least, a witchhunt whose details must be viewed with scepticism and distrust at most and as time passes it's memory will fade - the important lesson to be learned from the abuse scandal is not that the congregations remember it and have their beliefs shaken but that the Government take on the lesson and ensure it never happens again. Demanding that the people have their faith shaken or turn from Catholicism because of this scandal is an aggressively anti-Catholic agenda being pushed by our media, the only proper course corrections that the country HAS to take is to ensure that criminal abusers (and those who cover it up criminally) are punished as any sex offenders should be and that the government takes steps to ensure it cannot happen again. Industrial schools are a thing of the past and so these abuses will be too.

However for the militant atheists or those merely anti-Catholic, what will they do if the abuse scandals do not have the necessary critical mass leading to the destruction of Catholicism in Ireland? They have emptied their pistols here and there may not be much ammunition left in the future.
 

hiker

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Be charitable and interpret it as meaning that the Irish haven't given up christianity yet, like the majority of people on continental Europe have.

I'm not a post-xyz person myself either. It usually means lazy, meaningless categories are being invented and implies that some Hegelian synthesis has been achieved via the "sublation" of some world view or other with another contradictory one.
What does that mean, post-translation....

I'm quite sure though that the Irish have not moved on from christianity. Like I said, there is an inherent "need" fro the church by many individuals. People who, for whatever reason, feel lost, alone, and in need of support. It probably explains why so many eldarly people are active members. Its a form of society for them too when many of their friends and family are gone.

Personally I reckon the pro's outwiegh the con's. The trust is gone, the power is gone but there still many who rely on it.
Let it now do whatever it can to help those who need it.... a penance, if you will....
 

Green eyed monster

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Toxic Avenger said:
Anyone prepared to now acknowledge that blaming the Church alone (though they well deserve it) is too lazy and convenient.
That would cover the media who have never written much criticising or questioning the involvement of successive governments in their role in these abuse scandals. As Tommy admits, the governments of the past were fully capable of standing up to the RCC, so there can be precious few excuses.
 

Toland

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Anyone prepared to now acknowledge that blaming the Church alone (though they well deserve it) is too lazy and convenient. Yes, elements of the Church in this country deserve a horsewhipping for how they have behaved, but is anyone yet going to break the omerta on the slightly inconvenient fact that this sh1t seems to be massively prevalent only in Anglophone Catholicism, particularly Irish-dominated Catholicism, and is relatively rare (I'm not saying it doesn't exist, mark) in Latin America, continental Europe, and so on? Or are we all going to continue to connive in the convenience of a carpet marked 'Church' to sweep the maltreatment of children under, as if the Hispanic priest in central America has as much or more moral responsibility or culpability as a fellow Catholic hierarchy member for the abuse of a kid in rural Ireland than the Guard, the teacher or the parents who ignored or covered up what was going on (if they weren't at it themselves)?

Anyone prepared to acknowledge that there's something culturally sick and far more widespread in our country than is being let on by the media and politicians, and that, while a fair part of the Catholic hierarchy past and present deserves the vilification it is getting (and that includes some at the Vatican) for the covering up and moving around of the abusers, this is a particularly local problem in terms of sheer prevalence and thus indicative of something wrong with us as a culture much more than with just the Church? Or will I just be quiet and stop picking at well-covered sores? Much easier to just assume that I only say these things to deflect blame, therefore there can't be any merit in the argument regardless ...
The Irish catholic church is patently and principally to blame for Irish clerical abuse cover-up. The Vatican has patently participated in, or maybe even ordered, this cover-up.

Frankly, whether catholicism in general generates the clerical abuse that was covered up or whether this is an aspect of is an interesting question. It is not a question that should be mixed up with the subject of this thread.

I'd be interested to see your theory, but I'm not convinced that you have a point (Edit: I'm not even sure you have a theory, just some sort of vague hunch that you won't express explicitly). I think the argument should be made on another thread.
 
Last edited:

Toland

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What does that mean, post-translation....

I'm quite sure though that the Irish have not moved on from christianity. Like I said, there is an inherent "need" fro the church by many individuals. People who, for whatever reason, feel lost, alone, and in need of support. It probably explains why so many eldarly people are active members. Its a form of society for them too when many of their friends and family are gone.

Personally I reckon the pro's outwiegh the con's. The trust is gone, the power is gone but there still many who rely on it.
Let it now do whatever it can to help those who need it.... a penance, if you will....
The pro's outweigh the cons?!

It's transparent nonsense. A con if you like.

It's a lie.

Are you suggesting that it's a little white lie?
 
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The Irish catholic church is patently and principally to blame for Irish clerical abuse cover-up. The Vatican has patently participated in, or maybe even ordered, this cover-up.

Frankly, whether catholicism in general generates the clerical abuse that was covered up or whether this is an aspect of is an interesting question. It is not a question that should be mixed up with the subject of this thread.

I'd be interested to see your theory, but I'm not convinced that you have a point. I think the argument should be made on another thread.
I disagree, I think it is very obviously pertinent to the subject of the thread, the decline of the influence of Catholicism in the public-policy sphere and particularly of its moral authority being massively accelerated by the disgusting manner in which large numbers of clerics connived in the cover-up and moving around of abusers. They were indeed at the forefront of the cover-up in relation to clerical abuse, but they were far from the only ones, nor were they the principal parties in the cover-up of sexual abuse in the home or at school involving family members and other guardians. If we are to discuss the 'end' of Catholic power and influence in Ireland (which I think is untrue - though it has certainly declined), then the principal reasons for that perception need to be discussed, including what I believe to be a very selective and distorted received wisdom about what has occurred in this case.
 
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