Poll Indicates Sharp Decline in Religious Fervor in Ireland

Archbishop: Faith Isn’t Passed Automatically From Generation to Generation

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DUBLIN, Ireland, AUG. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A recent poll conducted by Red C Research and Marketing in Ireland showed a sharp drop in those who consider themselves religious in the country. The poll indicated that the Republic of Ireland is abandoning religion faster than almost every other country in the world. Vietnam was the only country with a greater decrease. Over 50,000 people worldwide were interviewed for the study. 

Nearly half (47%) of Irish who were polled consider themselves religious, compared to 69% in 2005. In a statement released by the Archdiocese of Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said that although the study requires further critical reading, the poll does show the challenges faced by the Catholic faith in Ireland. 

«The Catholic Church, on its part, cannot simply presume that the faith will automatically be passed from one generation to the next or be lived to the full by its own members,» he said.

The Irish prelate also noted that the upcoming Year of Faith, which begins in October, would provide an opportunity for renewed conversion and a rediscovery of faith in Ireland. 

«There are, without doubt, many in the Irish Catholic Church willing to take up the challenge of turning the corner of renewal and to witnessing in the Ireland of tomorrow to the hope that comes to them through their faith in Jesus Christ,» he said. 

The new study also placed Ireland in the top 10 atheist populations in the world. Though only 10% of the Irish population consider themselves atheist, it is still a sharp increase compared to 3% six years ago. 

Despite the sharp decline in religiosity, a spokesman for the Catholic Communications Office in Ireland questioned the poll on the basis that defining oneself as «religious» is too broad a term. «The word ‘religious,’ if left unqualified, is too general to be used as the keyword in a survey questionnaire — especially in the Irish context — where people prefer words such as ‘spiritual’. Being ‘religious’ is a very subjective measurement,» the spokesman said.

«For example, in the Catholic Church, someone who attends Mass on a daily basis may not describe themselves as ‘religious,’ yet they are outwardly a person of deep faith.»

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