Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy
CENSUS results showing that 78% of Irish people consider themselves Catholic is a “striking” figure, the Bishop of Limerick has said.
Dr Brendan Leahy said that while he is encouraged by the preliminary results of the 2016 Census, he urged that the Church needs to admit the wounds it has caused by those within to so many.
“Despite everything, we have discovered in recent days that 78% of our population still declare themselves Catholic. It’s a striking statistic.
“On the one hand, it is good news to hear that in the privacy of their own homes, 78% of our population have affirmed their Catholic identity. We can thank God for that. I doubt even the GAA has such a level of affiliation,” said Bishop Leahy.
He noted that before the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, left the country recently he said there is still so much to play for in Ireland.
“Perhaps that’s why there is such a struggle going on. There is still so much faith. There is a deep spiritual vein in the Irish psyche. The ground is fertile for the seed to be sown in new ways and nurtured better than we have before.”
He said while the Church has failed people in “many ways...the door is still open to engagement around the Catholic faith that still is recognised as part of personal identity.”
He added that as the Church is facing severe challenges, there must be wariness towards quick solutions that can be proposed in response to them.
“As we go out towards families, let’s be ready also to listen to those who want to share with us why it is they register as Catholic but somehow don't connect with the Church,” he said.
Other religions listed in the Census include Hare Krishna, which includes 53 men and 34 women; and Rastafarians, which include 91 men and 23 women.
There were also 59 male and 28 female members of the controversial Church of Scientology living in the State in 2016.