Let me put my cards of the table, I am an agnostic. I have no idea about how the universe was created nor who or what created it, to me only a god could answer these questions. I think it is rather silly for humans to attempt to answer them as those who do have faith do.
I am not a Dawkinist nor an atheistic, maybe people of faith are correct. For me however these faiths are just another set of political ideologies. In the most part I appose them but I do respect peoples religions, their faith, and their freedom to worship.
The political power of the Catholic Church in Ireland, present since it filled the vacuum left by the fall of the Gaelic order and subsequent haemorrhaging of culture, has been undeniable. It has been in my view a legitimate reason for unionists to appose integration into an all Ireland state and it has certainly damaged that cause.
The ever continuing child abuse scandals and the depth of the cover-up continue to wound the Catholic Church. I know one under thirty who attends neither mass nor sacraments, except for those sacraments which are primarily cultural.
These young people do have faith, but not in the Catholic Church. That has been destroyed by the sexual and physical abuse of children, and its cover-up, the laundries, the open cruelty of some of the clergy etc. etc. etc. A chairde, it was / is more than a few bad apples, let us forget that myth and accept our collective guilt.
In recent years older people of faith have clutched my arm and looked at me with emotional eyes and claimed that they didnt know. Horseshit I do not believe you. I knew. I knew never to get within grabbing distance of a priest.
Terminal decline? Two years ago I would have said no, they will make it. Now? No. They are fucked, I do not wish to put it any other way. The establishment will let them off but the people will make them pay. As in Italy, France and Spain there will always be a few who go to mass, but just a few, round our way we normally call them fascisti.
In my view many of the religious orders should be banned, property should be seized, schools and hospitals should be brought under the direct control of the state in the Republic (in the North the banning of our culture for state education leaves one in a bit of a dilema), bishops should answer for their crimes in the courts. These things are unlikely ever to come to pass however.
Let us look at the politics however for the realities of child abuse are unprintable, the decline of the Catholic Church is extremely unlikely in my view to have any effect of unionist opposition to a united Ireland, forget about that one.
But let us not forget that no organisation collaborated more with British rule that the Catholic Church. The Church served its own ends, never the people. I have never before quoted the Bull McCabe but how many priests died of hunger in the Drochshaoil?
Who more that the Catholic Church of shop keepers sons defended more privilege and inequality in society?
Let us not forget also that no organisation worked harder to destroy Irelands culture and to work for anglicisation than the Catholic Church, telling people it was a sin to speak their own language, telling old people they would go to hell if they could not confess in English. A glance at Gaelic folklore or literature would demonstrate the distrust for the priesthood felt by ordinary people.
I say confidently that the terminal decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland is of no small disadvantage to the cause of the Irish nation and the working classes.
This morning I write without balance nor fairness. I make no apologies for that for none is deserved. I may attempt the defence at a later date.
Freelance journalist, working mostly in Irish.
Have my own independent news website – antuairisceoir.com – which is in constant need of material.
I am the former editor of the newspaper GaelscÃ©al, www.gaelsceal.ie