Church

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: Religion and Atheism in Ireland

Vatican Radio:

A survey published this week has revealed that only 47% of people in Ireland consider themselves to be religious. Responding to the findings of the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says the data is a further reminder of the need to take religious education – particularly among adults – seriously. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:

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In a letter published on the Archdiocese website Abp. Martin states that “Catholic Church…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 notes that “the emphasis on religious education in schools – vital as it is – has perhaps taken attention away from the need for adult religious education. By adult religious education I mean religious education of such quality that it treats men and women as adults, addressing the questions which adult Christians have to face as they live their faith in today’s changing world”.

The Archbishop of Dublin also points out that Church leaders need to garner the visible enthusiasm for strong catechesis that they encountered among ordinary Catholics during the recent Eucharistic Congress, before it’s too late. He urges parishes to redouble their efforts in applying the National Directory of Catechesis Share the Good News suggesting the upcoming Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI presents the perfect opportunity of this.

Global Index of Religion and Atheism
Comments of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

The findings regarding Ireland of the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, while they still require closer critical reading, remind believers of the challenges facing people of faith in a changing 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. This survey is just one further reminder of the need for strong on-going education in the faith.

In my recent talk at the recent MacGill Summer School I drew attention to the fact that the Catholic Church in Ireland is far behind other European Churches in the way it addresses the formation of people in their faith. The emphasis on religious education in schools – vital as it is – has perhaps taken attention away from the need for adult religious education. By adult religious education I mean religious education of such quality that it treats men and women as adults, addressing the questions which adult Christians have to face as they live their faith in today’s changing world.

The excellent and stimulating National Directory of Catechesis Share the Good News was launched some years ago by the Irish Catholic Bishops but its application has been very slow and it has not yet made the inroads into popular catechetics and parish life that it needs to.

However, findings such as those contained in the Global Index must not be read in isolation – but as another signpost of the reality of our journey of renewal in the Irish Church. The enthusiasm and joy expressed by people who attended the recent Eucharistic Congress in their thousands is another – more positive – signpost.

The forthcoming Year of Faith announced by His Holiness Pope Benedict gets underway in October and provides the Irish Church with another opportunity, just months after the moment of renewal that was the International Eucharistic Congress – to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith.

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.

 

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