Irish Catholicism on Trial

Conference at IT Tallaght - Irish Catholicism on Trial - Oct 6th 2017

A two-day conference in IT Tallaght to explore the current issues facing Irish Catholicism (6-7 October, 2017)  

Advance booking is essential as places are limited

Keynote Speakers

Dr Gladys Ganiel, Understanding Post-Catholic Ireland: Does Religion Still Matter?Dr Gladys Ganiel, Understanding Post-Catholic Ireland: Does Religion Still Matter?
Dr Gladys Ganiel is Research Fellow in the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. She specializes on religion in Ireland and has authored/co-authored four books and more than 30 articles/ chapters, including Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland (Oxford University Press 2016) and The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity (co-authored with Gerardo Marti, Oxford University Press, 2014). Her current research includes an Irish Department of Foreign Affairs-funded project on how Presbyterians responded to the Troubles in Northern Ireland; and the biography of Fr Gerry Reynolds, a peacemaking priest from Clonard Monastery.

In 2013, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, wrote an article for America: The National Catholic Review, which was simply titled: ‘A Post-Catholic Ireland?’ With those words, Archbishop Martin confirmed that almost all idealized visions of a ‘holy, Catholic Ireland’ have long since past. In this paper, I argue that Ireland can indeed be characterized as post-Catholic, in the sense that institutional Catholicism no longer dominates social life in the Republic, and in the sense that even the most wary of Protestants in the north recognize that the power of the Catholic Church has declined. I ask if religion still matters in a post-Catholic Ireland, charting declines in religious practice and the rise of people who say they have ‘no religion’ across the island. I argue that despite these trends, the Catholic Church continues to frame the way that not only former Catholics, but also people of other faiths, think about and practice their religion. Religion matters to the extent that the Catholic Church is something that people define themselves against. This conclusion is based on a three-year research study on religion on the island, in which a major finding was that people of all faiths could not stop talking about Irish Catholicism – even when they were not asked directly about the Catholic Church. But religion also matters to people whose actions continue to be motivated by faith – another finding of the research study. In particular, religion matters to people who practice what I call ‘extra-institutional religion’ – religion that is practiced outside or in addition to the institutional Catholic Church. These extra-institutional expressions of faith have greater potential than the institutional Catholic Church to ‘matter,’ motivating people of faith to seek wider religious, social or political reform.

Professor Dermot Keogh, The Catholic Church and the Irish State
Professor Dermot Keogh, The Catholic Church and the Irish State

Professor Dermot Keogh is Emeritus Professor of History at University College Cork and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy. He has published widely on various aspects of twentieth century Irish history. His book, Jews in twentieth century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust (Cork University Press, 1998), was awarded the 1999 James S. Donnelly Snr. Prize by the American Conference for Irish Studies in the history/social science category and was reprinted in 2002 and 2006. His most recent publications are 1916: The Long Revolution (co-edited with Gabriel Doherty), published by Mercier Press, Cork, 2007; The Making of the 1937 Constitution (with Andrew McCarthy), published by Mercier Press, Cork and Dublin, 2007; Gerald Goldberg, A Tribute (co-edited with Diarmuid Whelan), published by Mercier Press, Cork, 2008; Jack Lynch – A Biography, published by Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 2008; and one of the authors of Ireland and European Integration, 1947-1973 (Irish Academic Press, London, 2011),  2 vols. and Ireland Through European Eyes: Western Europe, The EEC and Ireland, 1945-1973 (Cork University Press, 2013).


Catherine Maignant, The ‘digital continent’: an escape route for a Church in crisis?Catherine Maignant, The ‘digital continent’: an escape route for a Church in crisis?
Catherine Maignant is professor of Irish studies at the University of Lille. She was president of the French Association of Irish Studies (SOFEIR) and of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) for a number of years. After writing a PhD on early medieval Irish Christianity, she now specializes in contemporary Irish religious history. Her research interests include the response of the Catholic Church to secularization, interreligious dialogue, Celtic Christianity and the religious aspects of globalization. She has published extensively in all these areas. In recent years she has developed an interest in the place of the Internet in contemporary religious developments.

In 2009, Benedict XVI’s said the Church needed to proclaim the Gospel on the ‘digital continent’. More recently Pope Francis declared that the Internet was ‘a gift from God’ and that Catholics should fearlessly become ‘citizens of the digital territory’. Many in the Irish Church picked up the challenge from an early date, particularly the Jesuit order, but not only them. In the past few years Archbishop Eamon Martin has called people to ‘walk the streets of the digital highways’ and become ‘online missionaries, sailing out into the ‘digital sea’’. This paper will examine the ways in which the digital strategy, understood as a pastoral but also as a marketing strategy, has been implemented in Ireland. It will analyse the challenges implied by this new approach of evangelisation and discuss the nature of the new sacred space beyond the screen. Is it possible to consider cyberspace as a territory to be explored and conquered? The paper will argue that the digital continent may be seen as a possible escape route for a Church in crisis but will suggest that the initial results of that strategy are not yet definitive.


Programme of Events

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