Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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The Church and the People.

When a priest fails to turn up to say Mass it is hardly the stuff that headlines are made of, but this week it just so happened that when a priest didn't turn up for Mass the resulting furore went on to make headlines that just haven't gone away.

It so happened that at this particular Mass a Government Minister, Josepha Madigan, was there and when she aided in the service the press was there to get her opinions on a range of issues that are of importance to the catholic church.

What she said, particularly in relation to the need for there to be females priests as well as married priests raised the ire of one of the most high ranking catholic archbishops in the country.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin rounded on Josepha Madigan and said that she had no right to take part in the service, that her remarks regarding the Catholic church were not helpful and that there would never be female priests in the Catholic church let alone married priests.

Such was the anger the words sparked that there is now a national debate on the role of women in the Church which even the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has weighed in on.

One of the interesting things is that it is well documented that the Catholic Church moves at a glacial pace and even if the overwhelming majority of it's members wanted to have female priests it isn't a given that the church would necessarily ever agree. In fact it has often been remarked that if you don't necessarily agree with what the church does or says then you don't have to be part of the church.

The funny thing is that that is the way that the church is already going in Ireland if recent figures are anything to go by. Attendance at Mass is going down and those who consider themselves to be catholic is also decreasing.

It seems that nowadays there is a rise in the number of people who just consider themselves to be a-la-carte catholics, people who just take whatever part of the church they agree with and ignore it on all other issues.

The passing of the recent referendum on the 8th Amendment is yet another example of how the church's power in Ireland is dwindling. No matter how it tries to connect with the laity the hierarchy of the church appears to be unbending and out of touch.

That is not to say that when the Pope arrives here in August that there won't be hundreds of thousands of people who will come out to see him. If anything it is emblematic of the strange relationship that the Irish people have with the church.

It seems that no matter what happens the church and the people, it's flock, are becoming more and more estranged, seeing it as having little relevance in it's current form to their everyday lives.


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