The Archbishop of Dublin has revealed that fewer than one in five Catholics attend mass in his diocese on any given Sunday.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin also admitted that many young Irish people now only retain a marginal interest in their religion.
As he warned that the Church in Ireland is heading towards a crisis, the Archbishop revealed that just 18 per cent of all Catholics in the Dublin diocese now attend Mass on a Sunday.
This figure is the lowest of all dioceses in Ireland as Dublin has the youngest age profile in the country.
“Many young people, despite years of religious education, have only marginal interest in the message of Jesus,” said Archbishop Martin.
“Many who come to us today possess only a sort of cultural Catholicism which can easily deceive us about the depth of people’s faith.
“Faith in Jesus Christ and in his church is not a free-for-all of opinions in which anything goes.
Faith in Jesus has content and context. It is about knowing Jesus intimately.”
Speaking at an ordination service for seven young deacons at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Archbishop Martin acknowledged that the next few years will be crucial for the church in Ireland.
“We are at a truly crucial moment in the life of the Irish church. These words are not just platitudes,” he said.
“The church of the future will have to change and inevitably will be different.”
The Archbishop also reiterated the church’s stance on celibacy.
“The priest is freed from the personal care for a family in order to be able to give himself with all his heart to pastoral ministry,” he added.
“The priest renounces a legitimate intimacy so that he can be more intimate in his love of Jesus.”