A Dying Church in Ireland


Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis speaking to Irish officials in Dublin Ireland

Camilo Zeballos, Reporter

Following the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, many people have wondered how successful the traditional  Papal mass for the meeting of families will be in Ireland. Many groups and movements such as “Say Nope to the Pope” have started to protest against the Pope, particularly in Ireland, a country that used to be one of the most Catholic. All people, both in favor of and against the church, are anxious to see what will happen next.

The disconnect between the Catholic Church in Ireland and Irish public opinion has only formed recently but seems to be picking up steam quickly. In just a span of about 20 years, Ireland has allowed divorce (1995), gay marriage (2015), and abortions (2018) among other more secular rights to their citizens. Furthermore, protesters in Ireland have gained more traction after recent scandals, previously covered up regarding abuse inside the church were discovered not only in Ireland but also world wide.

Protesters in Ireland are saying “the church hasn’t done enough to stop this,” and that they are “tired of all the empty promises of the Church.”  The church responded to these recent scandals with a letter from the Pope saying,”With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner…” He called for change and reform in the church and promised that the church will do its best to prevent future abuse. He quotes the famous words of St. Paul saying, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it,” and how he understands the mass problem is not only for the victims of the abuse but also for everyone near them and within the church itself. He invites all people to pray for the victims of the abuse and their families as well as the church saying, “…penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings…” He also mentions how, “An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”

This, to many Irish Catholics, was not enough. They said they wanted more, and some even going as far as to say that they believe that the Pope himself should step down from the papacy. Others from movements like Say Nope to the Pope have started to reserve tickets to the Papal mass in Ireland and to personally protest against the church. Many protesters say that they felt this was the only way the Catholic Church would listen, but others condemn this. One person being Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying, it was “mean-spirited, petty and not an official form of protest.” He also mentions how it is not right to take away the opportunity of others to go to the Papal mass just because they don’t feel anyone should go. In response the leaders of the movement have said that that is not the case at all, saying it was  “…our intention to deliberately and actively not attend this event by having our absence as a form of peaceful and silent protest in the hopes that it will demonstrate our non-allegiance to the Pope and the Catholic Church and our support and solidarity with any and all victims affected by this organisation.” Saying they reserved tickets “…to which we were entitled to…” and have not stolen them from anyone.

Now, no one knows what will happen next. There are those who say that the church will fall and will continue to lose their power in Ireland, while others suggest that the protest will eventually die down and the church will return to notoriety. Some say that the church has not done enough, while others say that the apology from the Pope is everything they needed and are excited to see what changes will occur. As of right now, it is just a matter of waiting and seeing what will happen in this coming Papal mass and ultimately, the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland.