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From Galway to Cloyne and beyond

This book engages with the spectacular disenchantment with Catholicism in Ireland over the relatively short period of four decades. It begins with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 and in particular his address to young people in Galway, where the crowd had been entertained beforehand by two of Ireland’s most celebrated clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary, both of whom were engaged at the time in romantic affairs that resulted in the birth of children. It will be argued that the Pope’s visit was prompted by concern at the significant fall in vocations to priesthood and the religious life and the increasing secularism of Irish society.

The book then explores the various referenda that took place during the 1980s on divorce and abortion which, although they resulted in victories for the Church, demonstrated that their hold on the Irish public was weakening. The clerical abuse scandals of the 1990s were the tipping point for an Irish public which was generally resentful of the intrusive and repressive form of Catholicism that had been the norm in Ireland since the formation of the State in the 1920s.

Boasting an impressive array of contributors from various backgrounds and expertise, the essays in the book attempt to delineate the exact reasons for the progressive dismantling of the cultural legacy of Catholicism and the consequences this has had on Irish society. Among the contributors are Patricia Casey, Joe Cleary, Michael Cronin, Louise Fuller, Patsy McGarry, Vincent Twomey and Eamonn Wall.

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A witness in an age of witnesses

Redemptorist junior seminary. This did not leave him much of a career option, especially as he was the youngest of four, all of whom initially went on for religious life. Just like his two older brothers, he was eventually to join the senior seminary with a view to becoming a Redemptorist. In his first book, published in 1997, The Death of Religious Life, he retrospectively wonders that nobody, including his parents, ‘seemed to see anything unusual in three brothers from a sheltered background joining the order 133   134 134 Going against the tide and wanting to become

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism

major cultural upheavals that were taking place: ‘Today, the human race is passing through a new stage of its history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world …. Hence we can … speak of a true social and cultural transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well’ (Abbott 1966: 202). Essentially, the council documents provided the Church with a rationale and a blueprint for change. While the substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith could not change, the way in which it was presented could

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism

who had to cope with a community composed of, as they saw it, ‘foreigners and their children’. It was not an issue unique to Leeds, a similar problem was faced by Jewish communities in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, where established Jewish communities saw themselves numerically increasing, but with people whose way of life differed greatly from their own. Religious life in Jewish Leeds Throughout the period 1901 to 1914, Anglo-Jewry saw a conflict between the views of the Eastern Europe rabbis who came

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
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population. It is likely that the startling fall in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the increasing challenge to the Church’s stances on issues pertaining to human sexuality, were among the main reasons that prompted the Pope to visit Ireland in 1979. Rather than being a triumphalist visit, it was an attempt to lessen the tide of secularism and to re-​energise the faithful. However, in spite of the personal success enjoyed by Pope John Paul II during his time in Ireland, the situation of the Church did not improve in the 1980s and 1990s, which were

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism
A time of hope!

had a society steeped in petty snobbery, so that priesthood and religious life easily became a status symbol, while those at the bottom of the pile (the indigent poor, the parentless, farm labourers, petty thieves, etc.) were seen by Church, State and Society as non-​persons –​just numbers. Clerics and religious were all-​powerful. They were above suspicion –​and they knew it. They could act without fear of retribution. Human weaknesses of the flesh –​including machismo and sadism rooted in a frustrated sexuality due to repressive Puritanism and no real vocation or

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism

independent living, there is the Donisthorpe Hall care home providing some 180 beds. In recent times, Donisthorpe has had some serious quality concerns, following critical quality inspection reports. Recovery plans have been put in in place to permit this high-quality care facility to survive and prosper. The religious life of Leeds is sustained by four main synagogues, all conveniently located within walking distance (an important aspect of Sabbath observance) of the main areas of Jewish residence. One synagogue supports a Jewish bakery, while

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
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The empirical turn of Irish Catholic sociology in the 1950s

priesthood and other forms of religious life. Amidst widespread anxiety about a shortfall of vocations, Ireland –​which supplied not only its own needs but had several 95 Facing facts 95 substantial seminaries educating priests for other parts of the English-​speaking world and a number of missionary societies and religious orders supplying manpower for missions in ‘pagan’ countries  –​was a spectacularly bright spot. Its position therefore tended to be discussed in terms of the societal features that rendered it so productive of vocations or of its potential capacity

in Church, state and social science in Ireland
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Towards ethical ethnography

when I was exploring representations of campus politics in the national media. This hermeneutic approach, which is strongly influenced by Emile Durkheim’s (2001) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life Finding the words 45 and by linguistic structuralism, seemed to offer explanations for intensely felt political polarisation, which took seriously the subjective meanings of conflict for those involved. In contrast to Marxist and Weberian traditions in conflict sociology, focused on underlying material interests, Strong Program theories explore how social solidarity

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics

public conduct where persuasion or coercion can be effective, including that exerted by the modern state. During Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia, the state was strong but decided to minimize its interventions in Muslim religious life, so that Muslim civil society strengthened – as manifested especially in the emergence of the ‘modernist’ Muhammadiyah, which celebrated its

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times