Irish losing faith in Church but not in God
A national survey has revealed than 90% of people feel the Catholic Church in Ireland has been damaged as a result of clerical sex abuse of children, but faith in God has remained high overall.
The findings come as the Government faces pressure to establish a full statutory inquiry into sex abuse by priests in the light of new claims from alleged victims stretching back decades.
Some 92% of those questioned in the poll commissioned by the Bishops' Committee on Child Protection said a priest who abused children should not return to ministry.
Of the 94% who said the Church had been damaged by sexual abuse, more than half felt this damage was irreparable.
Almost three-quarters told interviewers they were opposed to the requirement that priests should be celibate, with only 17% in favour.
More than a third (36%) said cases of clerical sex abuse have negatively affected their religious practices, including reducing Mass attendance and praying.
Faith in God, however, remained high overall, with most people seeing the Church and priests as better or the same as in the past.
More than 1000 adults in Ireland were interviewed in the survey.
Irish Cardinal promises cooperation with Government probe (25/10/02)
Irish Catholicism in crisis (BBC)
7 Nov 2002