I am one of the keynote speakers at a conference next week on ‘Irish Catholicism on Trial,’ at IT Tallaght in Dublin. My address is titled, ‘Does Religion Still Matter in a Post-Catholic Ireland?’ It is scheduled for 4-5 pm on Friday the 6th.
The conference is billed as ‘a multidisciplinary conference exploring the ever-changing face of Irish Catholicism, the factors that have contributed to the current crisis and what the future holds.’
The other keynote speakers are Professor Dermot Keogh (University College Cork) on ‘The Catholic Church and the Irish State’; and Professor Catherine Maignant (Université de Lille 3) on ‘The ‘digital continent’: an escape route for a Church in crisis?’
Places for the conference, which costs €50, are limited. You can register here.
As well as the leading academic researchers on Catholicism in Ireland, the event features perspectives from people like Tony Flannery, Redemptorist priest and author, on ‘Did the early Church Fathers know too much about God?’ and Mark Patrick Hederman of Glenstal Abbey, Limerick, on ‘What happened to the Priesthood of the Laity?’
My lecture will draw on research that has been published in my 2016 book, Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland: Religious Practice in Late Modernity; as well as more recent work on the rise of people of ‘no religion’ in Ireland, especially among those under the age of 35.
The organiser of the conference is Eamon Maher, director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies at IT Tallaght and co-editor with Eugene O’Brien of a new book of essays entitled Tracing the Cultural Legacy of Irish Catholicism: From Galway to Cloyne and Beyond. In an article in Tuesday’s Irish Times, ‘Catholicism’s influence is very much alive in Ireland,’ he argues that:
… In other words, a post-Catholic society is one in which Catholicism still retains an influence in people’s personal lives and in the public sphere.
This is very much in line with the findings of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland, in which I argue that people in Ireland are creating spaces that nourish their faith outside or in addition to the institutional Catholic Church, while at the same time continuing to be influenced by the Church.
But at the same time, that does not mean that the future of Irish Catholicism is secure. In my lecture I will raise questions about a ‘lost generation’ of Irish Catholics (those under 35), and the extent that religion may continue to matter for them as they age and pass their (lack of) faith on to their children.