Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Notes on the sorry condition of Irish Catholicism

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 02, 2016

Ireland, once a great bastion of Catholicism, is in our news today for several reasons—none of them good.

  • When Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam remarks that the Church “is no longer the dominant intellectual influence in society,” that seems a considerable understatement. Bishop William Crean of Cloyne makes the more pointed observation that the current political establishment is working with the mass media to eliminate Catholic influence from public life.
  • Father Tony Flannery, a dissident Irish priest who continues to promote heterodox views in defiance of Vatican disciplinary orders, suggests that the Church in Ireland may be “beyond the point of redemption.” That’s an interesting turn of phrase, don’t you think? Someone with more authentic Catholic sensibilities might wonder whether Father Flannery is beyond the point of redemption. In any case, our redemption will not be won by following Flannery’s theological musings.
  • And there’s another dark cloud hovering over the Irish national seminary in Maynooth, with renewed charges that the administration is friendlier to homosexual students than to doctrinally orthodox young Catholic men. Naturally the administrators deny the complaint, claiming that “robust” action was taken when there were reports of “inappropriate behavior” among a few seminarians. In a sense that’s true, but an informed source tells me that the “robust” response was the expulsion of the student who complained about the homosexual activity; the students allegedly involved in the “inappropriate behavior” remain at Maynooth. In the light of this controversy, Irish columnist David Quinn notes that “Dynamically orthodox seminaries attract vocations.” To put things in perspective, Quinn points out that American Catholic bishops have been considerably more successful than their Irish counterparts in attracting young men to their seminaries.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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