Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Holy mess: 11 million Irish Americans leave Catholic Church

A new survey shows 34 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, say they have no religion.

Even more significant is that one-third of those, about 11 million people, are Irish Americans.

The survey by professors at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, does not explain why Irish Catholics are by far the highest number of people who are losing their religion every year in America.

We can only surmise the reasons for this, but I have some definite ideas. Think church sex scandals. Let's look at the timeline first.
The number of non-religious or "Nones" has nearly doubled between 1990 and now.

  • In 1990, Nones accounted for 8.2 percent of the population
  • In 2001 they accounted for 14.2 percent
  • As of 2009, they account for 15 percent

The report estimates that the figure will grow to 25 percent in 10 years time — making non-religion the largest "religion" in America.

Why are so many Irish Catholics leaving the faith? The obvious reason to me is the church sex scandals. They disproportionately affected Irish Catholics and most of the abusers we read about were Irish Catholic priests.

Certainly, based on evidence from Ireland where hundreds of thousands have fled the church and vocations have plummeted after the church scandals there, America with a similar experience is unlikely to be any different.

There has been such incredible scrutiny of the church from every angle and the church has responded so poorly since the scandals began that it is hardly surprising that people are leaving.

For instance, the Boston archdiocese, a hub of Irish Catholicism in America, has been riven by deep scandals that surely have turned many parishioners off

It is only my opinion but Irish Catholics had a deep and almost mystical attachment to the church and followed her rules more devoutly than other groups.

"Rome dictates and Ireland takes" was the old saw about how devoutly the Irish followed the signals from the Vatican.

Once that trust was broken — indeed shattered — it was always likely that many would turn away.

We are told that the leavers are "young, male and independent" and that almost all of them were identified as Catholic at age 12.

The loss of faith by Irish Americans has been profound and will require an incredible effort to win the faithful departed back.

The church has a massive struggle on its hands.

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Anonymous said...

Who wrote this?Which publication published it?Who is the person saying that most child abusers were Irish American?Where is the evidence?There is none.So no more racism.


A Disillusioned Catholic said...

Its not racism it is fact.

Look at the endless list of abusers in Ireland. They are Catholic Priests, Christian Brothers and even Nuns.

We as a country exported these men and women to USA and other countries since the start of the century when our Church was strong and they have gone on to abuse in the USA as did their fellow clergy here in Ireland.

The facts and figures available show that it is true. Even in Australia, New Foundland etc. many of the abusers were Irish born Priests who were sent abroad after ordination and the abuses that had started here in the Semenaries travelled with them to their new homeland.

It seems that from the start of this century those who entered the semanaries in Ireland were to a large extent obviously already perverts and predators before they entered and they chose the best way to cover things up. If they were homosexual it was the ideal, they did not have to disappoint their families by not getting married and having a family and they were praised by said families for making such a lifelong sacrifice. Unbeknown to their families they joined this unique club that is the Church possibly and mainly to have a fresh supply of young altar boys to abuse and even to abuse their fellow Semenarians as has been attested to by some now very Holy Priests who were abused during their training but stuck with the Church and still to this day remain Priests trying to bring some true Christianity to the Church through their own vocation in spite of what they suffered at the hands of their fellow clergy during training.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's because that the Irish clergy from the mid 1800s onward had such a strong influence on the US Catholic Church. Unfortunately, many of these pastors had strong Jansenistic, sexually repressive and secret tendencies about many matters.
"He may have his failings, but still he is a Priest or Bishop! So forget what you've seen or heard or experienced!"
A second point is that Pre Vatican II, pastors of Irish descent had an overwhelming lock on the upper levels of the US Church Hierarchy far beyond their % in the clergy.
This spread their culture throughout the atmosphere of the US Church, so that is why the pastoral rot and the passivity of the laity was so wide-spread.