In a recent interview with The Irish Times, Vatican Ambassador to Ireland Charles Brown stated that there has been a significant, or in his words ‘very serious’, decline in the number of people becoming priests in Ireland. This outcome may only seem natural to some on account of the scandals recently associated with the Catholic Church in Ireland and in many countries abroad. All the same, such scandals have been exposed before with not as significant an impact on priest numbers, this leads me to the question and the title of this article, are we losing our religion?
In some ways, it could be argued that we are, as can be seen by the reduction in priest numbers and the higher number of people (6.4%) that stated ‘no religion’ in the recent census. Nevertheless, I believe that people still have some form of faith and are perhaps losing their relationship to organised religion as opposed to religion itself, something that can be seen with the recent resurgence in those attending mass and the still high number (84%) of Catholics registered in Ireland.
On the other hand, many seem to be finding god through new media, media such as sport, music, art and even shopping. What is dedication to a particular idea or action but religion? Perhaps the most obvious sense of this is the ever-growing gym culture, amongst both the younger and older generations. Specific workout schedules are planned in order to receive a physical or mental boost. This outlined lifestyle in hope of self-improvement could arguably be seen as a form of prayer or ceremony.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that gym membership is some sort of spiritual and unbreakable bond, but nevertheless, it might or might not help to reflect on our lives and see how much we rely on habit and ritual such as that found in the gym, it could be our new religion.