Archbishop says pandemic means many 'will never return' to church amid low attendance

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said 'the post-pandemic church will look significantly different to the church we traditionally knew'.
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By Digital Desk Staff

The numbers attending mass have been “noticeably” lower since the pandemic with it likely that many younger people will never return to church, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

Mr Martin said the religious culture of Ireland is “at a crossroads” and that “the post-pandemic church will look significantly different to the church we traditionally knew.”

He noted that when churches reopened for the summer period, numbers were low with “different” demographics and a noticeable absence of younger people.

“Many whose attendance at church services before the pandemic was fragile will never return to public worship,” he said in a virtual homily celebrating the feast of Saint Laurence O’Toole.

Younger faces were noticeably missing

“When churches were reopened for public worship for the summer period, numbers were low and the demographics of those who returned were different. Younger faces were noticeably missing,” he added.


Mr Martin pointed to the fact that in Ireland today there are "more civil weddings than religious marriage ceremonies” and “according to the last census, ‘no religion’ is the second largest population group after Roman Catholics”.


He said “disillusionment” was a major challenge faced by the church today.

“The recent report on the former Cardinal McCarrick will have convinced many that the governance structures of the Church have again failed victims,” he said, calling for “an outward looking, forward looking Church”.

Senator calls for churches to open and give ‘hope’...
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The Archbishop's comments come as Senator Regina Doherty called for churches to reopen in the weeks leading up the Christmas in order to give “hope” during the Advent period.

Under current Level 5 restrictions, religious services are permitted to take place virtually only.

Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach said he had been in contact with religious leaders as there was a “strong spiritual” aspect to Christmas.

Asked if churches would be open for Christmas, Mr Martin said: “I think churches will be open Christmas week.”

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