Roman Catholicism in Deep Crisis

The fate of the Catholic Church is important in Ireland as Catholicism has deep cultural and religious roots in society right across this island. Many Irish are agnostic or atheist but they are “catholic” agnostics or atheists. With 10% of the population foreign born in the last census of population, assumptions of Irishness will need recalibrating.

The role of the Pope in the Catholic Church has been expanded over time. In 1870 at the First Vatican Council, the dogma of Papal Infallability in matters of faith and morals was passed. This has been used once to make the Assumption of Mary, an Article of Faith in 1950. Prior to that the Immaculate Conception of Mary became ex-cathedra dogma in 1854 in the time of Pope Pius 1X. The Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Evangelicals disagree and hold the Bible as the Holy Scripture. In surveys, a sizeable minority of catholics agree.

Peter deRosa quotes Cardinal Newman as saying “We have come to a climax of tyranny. A long-serving pope becomes a god and does cruel things without meaning it.”

de Rosa cites a few of these cruel things – (1) No condoms with millions dying of AIDS (2) No divorce for spouses abandoned after a year of marriage (3)priests forced to remain celebate to maintain male power (4) Gays insulted – their love ridiculed (5) raped woman and little girls forced to be mothers (6) un-Christ-like women entitled to six sacraments; Christ-like men to seven.

It is obvious that the Catholic Church faces massive contraction and virtual extinction in Ireland in the event of no change in the clerical
celebacy rules. The largest impact will be seen first in Primary Education and this is happening. The child sex abuse crisis is in every country where the Catholic Church is plentiful in numeric terms. Clearly, the Vatican bears a significant responsibility. The arrogance of the non-disclosure of documents to Judge Yvonne Murphy here in Ireland is predictable, regrettable and disgraceful. I believe that “diplomatic” relations should not be accorded a religion with a headquarters in an EU member state. History may be the reason for its existence but is not a cogent reason to continue the charade. At United Nations Conferences, the Vatican lobbies against human rights in the reproductive area and makes public health policies difficult to implement, particularly in Africa. I do not think the Vatican should be so accredited.

Religions should convince by the strength of their arguments but not by law. That is why Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and the Islamic Republic of Iran for example are shocking places for women. I think that religions are dangerous in the overall scheme of things as they often form a cover for sectarian wars, intolerance and evil.

On the good side, many people find religious faith gives them meaning in  life and get great succour from that. Organised religion also gives a focus for social relationships in an unwelcoming world. It replaces clubs in many people’s lives but may stultify others.

Our recent history in Ireland is complex with religions, sports and politics giving a subtle colour to our many identities. That is why a new
constitution based on the declaration of human rights and respect for minorities should be drawn up. There should be more focus on people and less on property rights. Why constantly amend a flawed document?