The Church in Ireland is undergoing “persecution”, with people directing “anger” at clergy, bishops have warned.
In an address at the ordination of a new priest in County Wexford, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns said: “You will feel the anger and hostility people have for the church in general directed at you.”
“There is a lot of concern in church circles these days about the future,” he added. “This is understandable given the volume of criticism and negativity directed at the church over recent times.”
The bishop said, however, that Catholics should not be fearful, and this was not the first time people had written off the Church.
“In these Pentecost days we need to cast off our fears too, we are not the first generation of Christians to worry and wonder about the future. In every age people have written the obituary of the church and our age is no exception,” the bishop said.
Meanwhile, the Irish Times also reports the words of Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore, who said hostility to the Church is now a “settled part” of Irish culture.
“People from abroad are often astonished at the antipathy to the church displayed in our country,” he said, adding that you don’t “have to be paranoid” to believe the Church is undergoing persecution.
“It is not physical persecution but it is no less real for that. It is more subtle. It takes the form of gradual exclusion of church people or activities from the public space,” he said.
“There is denigration of religious beliefs, practices and institutions on radio, television and on social and other media. There is often a focus on bad news about the church to the almost total exclusion of any good news.”