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Religions and social welfare

Religions and social welfare in Ireland

Ireland’s social welfare infrastructure combines a mixed economy of welfare ranging from state provision to voluntary community services partially funded by the state through to services provided by religious institutions. In the past, the Catholic Church was heavily involved in social welfare provision through the running of a national network of institutions such as mother and bady homes, reformatories and industrial schools. These institutions are now closed but in the 2000s state and media inquiries of the church’s running of these institutions spanning several decades has brought into the public domain a tragic history of abuse of vulnerable children and adults by some religious personnel.

The day-to-day involvement of religious in social welfare is now significantly reduced. Religious continue, however, to play important prophetic role in relation to the needs of groups in society neglected by the state such as the homeless and drug users. Personnel belonging to religious orders and congregations are particularly active in this area. To cite two examples, the work of members of the Irish Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice includes the provision of shelter to homeless young people and Social Justice Ireland – an umbrella group of religious orders and congregations – provides a critical voice in relation to state social policy provision.

D 9 October 2012    ABrian Conway

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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