The Irish people have given up on the basic principles of Catholicism according to a new survey.

The latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll shows that the majority of Catholics in Ireland no longer attend Mass.

The survey also says that significant numbers ‘do not believe’ in key elements of the church’s teachings.

The poll results have been published by the newspaper to coincide with the 50th Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church in Dublin this week.

The paper says the results show belief in the church is strongest in rural areas but falls off significantly in urban areas.

However, despite the fallout from clerical sex abuse scandals, it also says that a significant proportion of the country, including non-Catholics, believe the church has had a broadly positive influence on Ireland.

A total of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over took part in the survey with 89 per cent of respondents Catholic. Non-religious accounted for six per cent with Protestants at three per cent.

Less than a third of Catholics, 31 per cent, said they attended Mass at least once a week but more than two-thirds attended services far less frequently.

Some 39 per cent told the survey that they either never or very occasionally went to Mass while 20 per cent said they attended every two to three months and 8 per cent went once a fortnight.

The paper also reports that: “When it comes to the church’s teachings, many Catholics do not subscribe to key tenets such as transubstantiation. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) believe the blessing of bread and wine during Mass only represents the body and blood of Christ.

“Just over a quarter believe it is transformed (26 per cent).”

The Irish Times also says there is division on the issue of the church’s role in education with Labor Party supporters more likely to support Government moves to loosen the church’s control of primary schools.