Brian Kenny, 39 from Dublin, says "I don't go to church, and I don't know one person who does. Fifteen years ago, I didn't know one person who didn't." Eighteen years ago when I came here as a student I met many, many Irish Catholics who didn't go to Church much, if at all. And, today I still know plenty who go weekly or at least regularly. Seeing as Mr. Kenny and I are nearly the same age I'd have to say he seems to swing fairly wildly between monolithic groups.
I don't really have any quibbles with the gist of the USA Today article, I just thought that guy's quote sounded a bit extreme. The Irish Church is in serious decline, I don't think there's any argument about that.
However, what annoys me is the defeatism that is all too obvious in many of the priests. Okay, so times are tough. Then get tougher. What does Billy Ocean say?
My impression is that many of the priests have simply rolled over. They seem to presume that nobody under the age of 70 really cares. This problem seems more pronounced among those priests who are "younger", say under 60.
Moaning about early Mass is a symptom of this problem. Rather than moan, priests should recognize the changes in society and have two masses before 8am. It's not impossible.
Priests need to lead. They need to get into the schools and pitch the priesthood and other vocations to children. They should take a stand against those who use the Church for their own purposes, but who are really only members in name only. Denying a church wedding to those who never see the inside of a church from one end of the year to the next would be a start. I know this might be difficult and might not even be the right approach, but priests need to stand up for those who do attend regularly and do contribute to parish life and who are increasingly feeling used.
I've read all the horror stories about the fear that some Catholic priests used to instill in people in the old days, but we've come full circle now. I think the Church needs to reach out to lay people, many of whom have a lot more backbone and fight than do the priests.