Less that one in five Dublin Catholics now go to Mass every Sunday – and the real figure is perilously close to one in ten.
A new survey into the affairs of the Dublin diocese has reported that just 14 per cent of Catholics in the capital are weekly mass goers.
The situation in Ireland’s largest Catholic diocese has been described at the Diocese’s ‘biggest crisis since emancipation in 1829’ by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Bishop Martin made his remarks, reported by the Irish Times newspaper, after the report that weekly Mass attendance in Dublin is down to 14 per cent, 164,000 out of a Catholic population of 1,162,000.
The new report also stated that: “Of those who do attend Mass, all Sunday Mass-goers could almost be accommodated at one Mass per church per week.”
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The Archbishop warned: “The change that will take place between now and the year 2020 - just eight years away - will be enormous.
“I am more and more convinced that they will be the most challenging years that the diocese has had to face since Catholic Emancipation.”
Reacting to the report, Archbishop Martin added: “There is a real change in the religious culture of this diocese.
“Societies like our own, where faith and the Christian life once flourished and faith communities were strong, are now undergoing a far-reaching transformation.
“Today we encounter not so much a situation in which people are torn between two realities, one God’s and the other Caesar’s, but a world in which in many ways the reality of God is slowly being eclipsed and men and women live their lives as if God does not exist.”
The Bishop then acknowledged that his Church is now paying the price of so many sexual abuse scandals.
He went on to say: “The cultural infrastructure which for decades supported belief and the transmission of the faith began slowly to show signs of wear and tear.
“But for many, the recent sexual abuse scandals and the mismanagement of the response to them were the final disillusionment with the church, and from indifference they moved to anger at the church.
“We are going down a road which is uncharted. That can be unnerving but we should not overlook the signs of hope that are present within the church in Dublin.”
“Numbers attending church may be down but there are parishes which have never been as vibrant in their history as they are today.”