Skip to comments.Holy mess: 11 million Irish Americans leave Catholic Church
Posted on 07/25/2010 10:44:46 AM PDT by Gamecock
A new survey shows 34 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, say they have no religion.
Even more significant is that one-third of those, about 11 million people, are Irish Americans.
The survey by professors at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, does not explain why Irish Catholics are by far the highest number of people who are losing their religion every year in America.
We can only surmise the reasons for this, but I have some definite ideas. Think church sex scandals. Let's look at the timeline first. The number of non-religious or "Nones" has nearly doubled between 1990 and now.
* In 1990, Nones accounted for 8.2 percent of the population
* In 2001 they accounted for 14.2 percent
* As of 2009, they account for 15 percent
The report estimates that the figure will grow to 25 percent in 10 years time making non-religion the largest "religion" in America.
Why are so many Irish Catholics leaving the faith? The obvious reason to me is the church sex scandals. They disproportionately affected Irish Catholics and most of the abusers we read about were Irish Catholic priests.
Certainly, based on evidence from Ireland where hundreds of thousands have fled the church and vocations have plummeted after the church scandals there, America with a similar experience is unlikely to be any different.
There has been such incredible scrutiny of the church from every angle and the church has responded so poorly since the scandals began that it is hardly surprising that people are leaving.
For instance, the Boston archdiocese, a hub of Irish Catholicism in America, has been riven by deep scandals that surely have turned many parishioners off
It is only my opinion but Irish Catholics had a deep and almost mystical attachment to the church and followed her rules more devoutly than other groups.
"Rome dictates and Ireland takes" was the old saw about how devoutly the Irish followed the signals from the Vatican.
Once that trust was broken indeed shattered it was always likely that many would turn away.
We are told that the leavers are "young, male and independent" and that almost all of them were identified as Catholic at age 12.
The loss of faith by Irish Americans has been profound and will require an incredible effort to win the faithful departed back. The church has a massive struggle on its hands.
I think it’s more about NOT being a member of one particular parish church than being a Catholic.
If 2% of priests,acting immorally,can cause so many to “lose” their faith then it couldn’t have been very strong to begin with.
Thank God for an exodus from dead tradition.
It’s not the same America their ancestors came to.
O'Dowd seems to equate leaving the church with "leaving the faith." And, he seems to think Irish and Catholic are joined at the hip, as though there are no Irish who are not Catholic (or were until recently) Are these a correct assumptions?
Not to worry—12 million Mexicans will take their place.
And how is "left" defined? Is is a permanent separation or only temporary? Is it a conversion to another faith or denomination, is it agnosticism or full blown atheism?
Like a Rorschach test or an afternoon discussing cloud images, at best this study will only serve as fodder for those who wish to prove a pointless point.
Americans of Irish descent disproportionly live in very Blue areas - Massachusetts, NH, Vermont, RI, and the Northern counties of NY and parts of NJ.
I’m not sure if the cart is leading the horse or vice versa.
I do know that I am a person of faith, coming from these areas, but lots of people that called themselves Catholics up there were never more than Easter and Christmas mass Catholics. It only takes a small nudge from the secular progressive community, like an elitist college experience where faith is looked down on, to push someone over into agnostism.
In any case I see a spiritual blackness over that area of the country. People are searching, but so many of them won’t even hear the gospel message because it just is so “uncool”. They don’t know what to believe - they seek it out in modern spiritual SP humanistic stuff, but it leaves them unsatisfied. I’ve seen it. They are the center of their own universes and don’t know where to turn when real trouble comes.
Think John Kerry and you’ll understand why so many are leaving. To many CINO being Catholic is Cultural and not a sign of their personal faith. You have such people leaving for two reasons and the reasons actually are opposed to each other. One reason is for the Church emphasizing that support for the culture of death can not be reconciled with Catholic teaching. They leave because it is useless to pretend anymore.
But the other group leaving, Irish or otherwise, did not see their faith as only a cultural exercise and they are the ones who have been wounded either directly or indirectly by the scandals. They have not lost their faith in God but the behavior of some in the Church has so tested them and given them such great pain that the bitterness, anger and sadness they feel only grows if they remain in the Church. They usually leave to find another place of worship and they keep their faith in God.
To me it is better they leave and keep their faith then have it killed by the wrongs done by other Catholics, clergy or lay.
I think a generation of liberal 'anything goes' bishops has hurt a great deal. So many of these outspoken bishops were economic half wits who and big government enablers and have hurt the cause. They came close to driving me away.
There are other social issues for which they have spoken that would have helped if they had simply put socks in them.
I'm more religious today, by far, than I was when I attended the seminary over forty years ago. Hence, I've stuck around. My own personal journey has not been due to anything Catholic hierarchy in this country has offered.
I believe the Catholic Church can recover but won't until the teachers of Catholicism do so based on the New Testament and not on desire for good social feelings.
Religion is a personal matter. My personal "Amazing Grace" is the Gospel of John.
Serious question here: What are the criteria for being an “Irish American”? Anyone know? My anscestors on both sides came from Ulster and were Presbyterians. Of course, that was more than two centuries ago. Am I an “Irish American”?
Let me suggest that it was not scandal that caused this, but the perpetual mistake of the church: improper involvement in the secular world.
The side effect of doing this is the creation of “social Catholics”. People who are indifferent to the religion, but want in on the secular influence and business connections of the church.
In short order, this hypocrisy breeds active dislike for the church, some even despising it and its doctrines.
Catholics who would have left because of scandal would not be mad at the church. Instead they would be saddened and disappointed.
But social Catholics are angry with the church. They hate that they had to pretend to be Catholic, to get “Catholic benefits”. And if you go down the list of what the church supports, they will oppose every one of those things, just because.
They also demand things they know the church will reject, because it would be harmful to the church. Then they sneer when the church is constant in its beliefs.
And yet they still call themselves “Catholic.”
I think the real problem is that whenever someone hears the term "Irish Catholic," they think of flamingly liberal sexually immoral drunks who kill people and get away with it, i.e., people like Ted Kennedy. No one thinks of "Irish Catholic" as meaning anything religious anymore.
John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
That’s it in a nutshell.
Catholics still call those who have left the RCC *Catholic*.
Once a Catholic, always a Catholic, in the RCC mind.
My personal sneer lies in the fact that the church is not constant in their beliefs.
In any case, the point is that most Catholics leaving the Church were probably Irish, because most Catholics in the US used to be Irish. It's only in the last two decades that hispanics have challenged the Irish and Italians for that title. After hispanics have been exposed to atheistic culture that is being peddled by the mainstream media as intensely as Americans have, they'll probably overtake the Irish in leaving the US Catholic Church. (IIRC, this process is accelerating even in Mexico). But who knows? Perhaps, the economic disaster and political turmoil will make people turn back to God.
In any case, the culture of the US since 1960 has been gradually trying to ween Americans off Religion in general and has only accelerated with every decade since the 60's. The trend probably holds across the board in all denominations. (Another thing to consider is that the Irish populations were primarily located in cities which makes it easier to expose them to anti-religious/Communist propaganda.
Another possibility to consider is this. The author lists "mysticism" as a reason for Irish devotion to the Church. If we accept that as true, then the changes to the liturgy, rites, and traditions of the Church following Vatican II would have almost certainly played a part in the loss of their faith.
In summary, you could probably say this. In Mexico, there probably has been a serious loss of Catholics who are hispanic (because most Catholics in Mexcio are hispanic). In Italy, most of the people who leave the Church are probably ethnic Italians because most Catholics there are Italians. The same is probably true of the US Catholics who until recently were probably mostly Irish. However, I bet if you look at all of these countries, there is probably a serious loss of members in all of them. It is the materialistic, selfish culture that has brought this on. It makes everyone leave, and which race leaves the Church probably just depends on who the largest race in each individual country is. It is probable that the race has nothing to do with their leaving the Church at all. The reason for their leaving is probably a loss of faith in God caused by the communist/progressive, selfish, indulgent ideologies that are winning the culture war through mainstream media brainwashing. Meanwhile, the Church shoots itself in the foot by getting lax on serious crimes and butchering its own liturgy, while simultaneously supporting the same ideologies that are undermining them from the pulpit.