Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
From RTE News Online
More than 90% of people in Ireland believe the Roman Catholic Church has been damaged as a result of revelations of clerical sex abuse of children, according to a Poll published today.
The survey, of over 1,000 mostly Catholic adults, revealed that more than a third of those questioned said allegations of widespread child abuse by priests had affected their religious practices in terms of churchgoing and prayer.
The survey which was carried out by researchers at Dublin's Royal College of Surgeons, come as the Government faces pressure to order a full statutory inquiry into allegations of clerical abuse in cases stretching back over more than 40 years.
Michael Breen, a member of the Irish Bishops' Committee on Child Protection, which commissioned the poll as part of a wider survey, described it as "a very useful piece of work".
"I think people are rightly appalled by the way the church has handled the issue and rightly dissatisfied, but before we can begin to redress a wrong, we have to know the extent of what needs to be done and this is part of our effort in that direction," he said.
More than three in four people believed the Church's response to the sex abuse was inadequate. And 92% of those questioned said a priest who abused children should not return to ministry.
On the issue of clerical celibacy, almost three-quarters told researchers they were opposed to the requirement, with 17% in favour.
However, faith in God remained high overall, with most people seeing the church and priests as better or the same as in the past.
Mass attendance by practising Catholics was recorded in the poll at 63%, a 2% drop from a 1997 survey.
Breen said he was "very encouraged" that religious practices had not been overly affected. Faith was about a relationship with God rather than an institution, he added.