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Irish People 'Have Become Pagan' Say Association of Catholic Priests

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Irish priests said that the nation has 'become pagan' | PA

Irish people have "to all intents and purposes, become pagan” according to the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) .

The report from the Irish Roman Catholic clergy and published on the ACP website blames problems the church is facing on people's lack of time or interest and faith rather than its own institution.

It said: “There seems to be a substantial number of bishops, and some priests, who believe that the problems we are facing are not due to any difficulties in the Church or with the priesthood, but are caused by a lack of faith in the people.

"The people, they told us, have bought into the evils of materialism and consumerism, and don’t have time or interest in faith any more. They have, to all intents and purposes, become pagan. And they believe that ‘evangelisation’ is the answer."

However “there didn’t seem to us to be any practical ideas, or indeed energy, around how this evangelisation could be progressed,” it added.

In meetings with priests councils in 10 counties, they also discussed how to boost the number of priests, and proposed bringing back ones who had left the church to get married.

Catholic peers and MPs in the UK wrote to Pope Francis asking him to consider permitting bishops in the United Kingdom to ordain married men as priests in March.

Formerly Britain's most senior Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien said in February he believed priests should be able to marry and have children if they wish to do so. He resigned from the diocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews in the same month after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The ACP also discussed allegations of sexual abuse made against Irish priests. The church in Ireland has been hit by dozens of cases of high-profile Catholic clerics involved in illicit heterosexual relations as well as widespread physical abuse of children in the Catholic-run childcare network.

In many cases, the abusing priests were assisted by senior clergy to move to other parishes.

"We also highlighted the fact that there are now sufficient numbers of false allegations against priest to cause concern," the report said.

"We acknowledged that there have been substantial changes for the better in how allegations are dealt with. There was general approval for our work in this area."

The report ended with criticism of priests saying: "The age, lack of energy, tiredness of priests was very obvious. Expecting these men to bring about any real change was clearly not living in the real world. Keeping the show on the road for another few years is the most that can be expected from most of them."

The ACP was meeting with priest councils after the Irish Episcopal Conference refused to meet the association.