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  • May 2015

In the 1970s, the dominant religious institution in Irish society, the Catholic Church, began to collect survey-based data about trends in weekly church attendance. This provided an empirical basis for pastoral planning in the church. However, other faith traditions in Ireland have only very recently carried out institutional religious research about church attendance. A good example of this is the recent census carried out by the Church of Ireland. Notably, this reported a 15 per cent average Sunday church attendance rate among Church of Ireland adherents, based on systematic head-counts of devotees attending Sunday services over a 3-week period.

For more detail, see Church of Ireland, Census 2013.

  • April 2015: Divisions and overlaps between religious and secular groups evident in same-sex marriage referendum debate

A referendum will take place in Ireland on 22 May 2015 concerning the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, religious and secular groups have both advanced positions in relation to this contested issue. For the most part, opponents of the referendum belong to religious groups while supporters fall into the secular category. At the same time, there is also some evidence of organised religious groups supporting the referendum. A good example of this is the Faith in Marriage Equality (FIME) group, which brings together different faith traditions in advocating, based on religious sources of legitimation, for marriage for same-sex couples.

  • March 2015: Religious and secular groups weigh into same-sex marriage referendum debate

On the 22 May 2015 a referendum will be held in Ireland concerning the legalisation of same-sex marriage. In the run up to this referendum, religious and secular groups have put forward opposing stances. The Catholic bishops have set out their position calling for rejection of the proposed constitutional change, a stance which chimes with the position of other religiously-inspired entities such as the Iona Institute (Dublin-based Catholic think-tank which promotes traditional church teaching, especially in the area of marriage and family). On the secular side, groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) are calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

For more detail, see the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference website, Iona Institute, and GLEN.

  • January 2015: Primate calls for discontinuation of academic selection in Catholic school system

The majority of primary and secondary schools in Irish society are state funded but are run by religious groups, mostly Catholic. Historically, these schools have administered entrance tests to select their student intake based on academic ability. One of the consequences of this has been the marginalisation of weaker, less academically oriented students, especially students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This can have quite significant impacts in relation to future transitions to further education and employment. In light of this, the Catholic archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, called for the discontinuation of academic selection in the Catholic school system. He cited the importance of inclusivity as a principle motivating this stance.

For more detail, see The Irish Times.

D 3 September 2015    ABrian Conway

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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