Irish Catholics are a ‘dying breed’ – Diarmuid Martin

Irish Catholics are a ‘dying breed’ – Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop accused of demoralising effect on priests


People who come to Mass “are a dying breed” the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said.

He said: “I could spend all my time being concerned about the people who come to church, but they’re — you know I don’t want to be nasty — but they’re a dying breed”.  He was quoted in an article in The New York Times at the weekend about what the newspaper described as the ‘demise’ of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

A leading psychiatrist and commentator has warned that the archbishop’s description of Massgoers as a “dying breed” woud have a demoralising effect on hard-pressed priests working in parishes across the country.

Prof. Patricia Casey said that Dr Martin should be trying to “stimulate renewal on the ground in the Church in Ireland” rather than “constantly talking negatively”.

The UCD psychiatrist said “being relentlessly negative has a very demoralising effect on priests in parishes who are very hard-working and are really trying to connect with people.

“A person in leadership should be trying to facilitate and aid this work rather than speaking in an overly-negative way,” she said.

Prof. Casey said that she would encourage the archbishop to look to other parts of the world where the Church is better at connecting with young people and see if “that approach might work here too”.

She said that it’s very easy to “point to the shortcomings without offering any solutions.


Prof. Casey said that while declining numbers of people going to Mass is a reality in the Church in Ireland, there are indications that this has stabalised.

The recent European Social Survey (ESS) indicated that in 2016, 36% of Irish adults still attended a religious service at least once a week, this figure being only slightly down on the 2014 figure of 37%.

Prof. Casey said that if the archbishop wants to attract more younger people to the Church he should spend more time talking to and engaging with young Catholics who do practise their faith to see what appeals to them about the Church.

In the same article in The New York Times the archbishop also spoke in defence of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that currently protects the right to life of the unborn.

“The one way the Church could lose on the abortion debate is to compromise its position,” he said.