‘Catholicism in Ireland today?’ by Joe McVeigh


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In light of the teaching of Pope Francis on the Care of Creation and on Mercy and Justice, we who claim to be Catholic and Christian in Ireland need to ask some serious questions about the kind of religion that is practiced and preached in Ireland – a country that is nominally Catholic and still claims allegiance to the Pope. In my view, it is often the kind of religion condemned by the prophets and by Jesus because it most often divorces ritual worship from the practice of justice.(Is1:11-17,58:1-12, Amos 5:21-24.) It is lacking any real experience of God. To work for justice is to experience God.

The Irish church for the most part paid lip-service to the Pope’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si –On Care for our Common Home’, published in June 2015.  It seems to me that most Irish Catholics who still ‘practice’ are living out their Christian faith on a superficial level and are being allowed and even encouraged to do so by the bishops and clergy. Though over fifty per cent have walked away from the practice of their faith  many who continue ‘practicing’ go through the motions by attending church on a regular basis but with no awareness or commitment to the common good, to fighting injustice and fighting against the destruction of the planet. They are not moved by the radical call of the Gospel to repent and live out the good news. The Irish people initially accepted the message of Christ because it spoke to them about solidarity and freedom and justice and powerlessness. It would appear that this no longer appeals to them because they do not hear it nor do they feel it is relevant to them.

Where is the strong solidarity with the oppressed and the poor that the Gospel calls for? Is it only in those few places you could count on the fingers of one hand?

How many Catholic parishes are doing anything for refugees?

What has the Catholic Church to say about racism still prevalent in Irish society?

What has the Catholic Church to say about the British media in Ireland and the racism of that media?

Where is the mercy that Jesus talked so much about and that Pope Francis keeps reminding us about?

Where is the real concern for justice and equality in our country and in our world?

Is it enough to throw a few pounds in the Trocaire collection once a year?

Is it enough to join in Rosary and Eucharistic adoration? Is that what following Christ is all about?

Is it enough to go to Mass once a year when the child is making First Communion or receiving Confirmation? What kind of example is that for children?

Is it enough for those who still go to Mass every week to ignore injustice and repression and the pollution of the earth for the rest of the week?

Is it satisfactory to continue to pray the way we learned at school in an infantile, individualistic selfish way?

What kind of celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is it when most often those who still go are concerned about the number of times they cursed or had bad thoughts?

What are all the trips to Medjegorie achieving for the renewal of the Irish Church?

Is the Catholic religion in Ireland about conforming to some glorious past that we read about in the right-wing publication called ‘Alive’? Why do the Irish bishops allow this nonsense to be dumped at the back of every church in the country?

Why has the Catholic Church in Ireland become an upholder of the ultra-conservative political and economic status quo?

What did Christ call for most often?

Where is the radical preaching?

Where is the edge in our religious preaching and teaching? Is it just about being ‘nice’ and peaceful? Where is the sense of outrage about the way people are being treated by government and banks?

How much do we care about the homeless in our cities and towns – apart from the good work of people like Peter McVerry, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and Brother Kevin? Are these the only true witnesses of Christ in Ireland today?

What has the official Church to say about those who are unemployed and those who are exploited at work?

What are we Catholics doing about the children who go hungry every day?

Is the level of caring reflected in the kind of politicians that are elected by ‘good Catholics’?

What does that say about our concern for the poor and for creation?

Would Christ on the Cross be impressed with our lip service to him?

Would he be angry with what we have done to the new Way he brought about 2000 years ago?

Where is the radical faith that he praised in some of the people he met?

Why is the Word of God as expressed by Jesus not taken too seriously in Ireland nowadays?

What would he have to say to bishops and us priests who profess to be Christian leaders and preachers of his radical message?

About lifestyle and the content of preaching?

Would he be happy with the kind of stuff that is trotted out every Sunday? Would he be outraged?


18 Responses to ‘Catholicism in Ireland today?’ by Joe McVeigh

  1. Kevin Corrigan September 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    …the Church is getting left in the Past where it belongs. It’s burning embers are all that is left.

  2. Dedeideoprofundis September 2, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    What kind of celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is it when most often those who still go are concerned about the number of times they cursed or had bad thoughts?

    Who Knows the secret of the Black Magic Box???

  3. Danny Kelly September 2, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    The truth is that people are educated enough to realise that the Catholic Church is not a force for good and that the idea of a sky daddy is preposterous nonsensical superstitious rubbish Religion creates division and can never meet the needs of a diverse life evolved over billions of years

  4. Croiteir September 3, 2016 at 1:29 am #

    These are the fruits of V2 – when the Church decided to reconcile with the times instead of castigating it as it did in earlier times.

  5. Twinbrook Lad September 3, 2016 at 7:56 am #

    Thought provoking and a real reason for self examination of our individual conscience which we are all called to do. Even if you don’t believe in God, surely the article causes more than enough embarrassment when we look at ourselves in the mirror. Or as long as I’m alright jack, screw the rest of you? Look into your own heart and ask these questions above.
    Great article Joe

  6. Wolfe tone September 3, 2016 at 9:53 am #

    The dogs on the street know the Catholic Church is one big cabal. It may have the odd genuine person in it but overall it’s full of people out to get something for themselves.

    I remember attending the funeral of a mates uncle and being shocked at the tone of the priests comments about the deceased on the pulpit. The dead man was an alcoholic and alas died from his ailment. His wife had passed several years before. Anyways, to hear the priest you would ve thought the dead man was an out and out monster. I asked my mate afterwards about the sermon and he told me the whole family is in shock and disgusted.(the later got an apology)

    It could be said the dead mans family had very little wealth I.e money and I strongly suspect the priest picked up on that and arrogantly was looking his nose down on them. The whiff of snobbery and ungenuineness was so much in evidence that the tramp didn’t find time to attend the graveyard ceremony; he sent an underling to do that.

    Money/power is all they think of and the Catholic Church has a fine knack of always somehow landing on the winning side/the side in power. Pathetic.

    Btw my when my daughter was in primary school she innocently asked me why is there a shop in the church. ‘Did Jesus not go into the temple and throw out those who were using it to make money?’. She couldn’t get her head around this hypocrisy. Listen love, I said, you’ll soon learn not to heed anything the church says as its full of hypocrisy. It’s only there to control the peasants whilst making lots of loot.

  7. moser September 3, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    No need to go to mass tomorrow now after that sermon Joe.

  8. CiaraP September 3, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    Very thought provoking in an era where one is looked down upon and criticised for believing in God. We live in a society that encourages self promotion and self seeking attitudes. As Catholics we need to look at the Christ like value of putting others first, working for social justice for all in an non judgemental manner.

  9. moser September 3, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    That’s powerful stuff Joe. I think we live in a world with to many false idols. I also believe we are in a conflict between good and evil and all of us must decide which side we are on. Perhaps, all of us on this blog, could do even just one thing positive to help ? Any suggestions ?

    • jessica September 5, 2016 at 6:46 am #

      Get out of the house, meet people and help at least 1 person every day.

      • moser September 5, 2016 at 11:45 am #

        Good advice Jessica. Correction, I should have said too many false idols.

  10. jessica September 5, 2016 at 7:01 am #

    When the pope signed off on the cover up of child sex abuse by its clergy in Ireland, it signed its own death warrant in Ireland as it proved beyond all doubt that papal infallibility is a lie.

  11. outsider September 6, 2016 at 12:38 am #

    Like most priests, in your sermon, you failed to mention the attitude of the Catholic church towards gay people. There is one simple fact that the church fails to accept in relation to gay people – they are as God created them and their sexuality is, like everyone else’s, God-given.
    Yet the church uses the term “intrinsically disordered” in relation to homosexual acts. Try feeling wanted or included in the church when the natural expression of your love for your partner is thus described.
    I could be wrong but I believe that a draft report from the recent synod of bishops in Rome which took a softer than previous line on homosexuality was changed considerably for the final version.
    The church still equates homosexuality with sin.
    In your blog you ask what Jesus Christ might have said about some of our modern situations. He preached acceptance, understanding and above all else love. I believe that the Catholic Church has progressed to be something that he would largely not approve of. I don’t believe he would have had any problem with the physical expression, by two gay or lesbian people, of their love for each other – their God-given sexuality, their God-given love.

    • outsider September 6, 2016 at 12:43 am #

      not sure how that final line crept in!

    • jessica September 6, 2016 at 10:50 am #

      “I don’t believe he would have had any problem with the physical expression, by two gay or lesbian people, of their love for each other – their God-given sexuality, their God-given love.”

      A lot of emphasis on sexuality referenced there outsider, are you asking for church approval of buggery?
      As for as I am aware, the churches opinion on that act is the same for heterosexual couples as it is homosexual, if not it should be.

      Personally I would support love between any two people but I don’t want to know about what goes on in the bedroom and I think buggery is disgusting if you do insist in bringing it up.

  12. outsider September 9, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    the “final line” I referred to on 6th Sept is a standard warning line which appears when the response is posted but does not appear in the published version. I cannot recall the exact wording.

  13. outsider September 9, 2016 at 11:38 pm #

    “your comment is awaiting moderation”

  14. outsider September 9, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    Jessica – you brought it up – not me!