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A brief comment on 2016 census
Thursday 6th April 2017 @ 10:20 pm

So – Republic of Ireland census 2016 results are in.

Some interesting religion observations.Roman Catholic population in Ireland – 78% 

… down from 88% 10 years ago. Take out the 10% that the Irish Catholics Bishops survey in 2010 reports ‘don’t believe in God,’ and you’re somewhere around the 65–68% RC. In Ireland. The most overtly Catholic country in Europe for decades (save maybe Italy).

Church attendance figures put actual attendance in Ireland (total population, once a week) around the 40% mark. Some surveys have RC mss attendance at less than 20%. The year I was born, this figure was 91%.

I can talk about the RC’s because the Methodists don’t even figure. In this recent survey we have been squeezed into the ‘other religious’ category – which might be one explanation for over 70% increase in ‘other religions.’ 

Anglicans have declined. 

Presbyterians have declined. 

Pentecostals have declined. 

Only the orthodox Christian population in Ireland has grown – from 45000 to 62000.

Muslims have increased. Hindus have increased. 

I find it tough to stomach, sometimes, that my life–time just happens to coincide with a monumental historic shift in religious practice on this island. I’ll try not take it personally, but to be honest, if there ever were ‘good old days’ they have certainly disappeared over the horizon with Dorothy and Toto. But we (the Christian church) still somehow seem oblivious to the realities around us … most of the Christian church still believes it operates within Christendom parameters, and that if we try hard enough we can get back to the –church–in–the–centre–of–village–life that people remember in Ireland. That option is gone. Why deny it?

Which of course opens up the potential of a new conversation. 

A chance for something new. Something different. Something which is not scared of religion being deformed before our eyes, because that something knows religion is not God. It knows religious practice is not faith. The door for something life–giving, hope–inducing, God–sustaining and light–enhancing might well be opened before us … a door to a ‘something different’ which breathes purpose, meaning, dignity and justice. 

Something ‘for such a time as this.’

Something for life. Real life.


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