by Edd Doerr
Many years ago TV guru Bishop Fulton Sheen, in a book about philosophy and religion, had this, and only this, to say about Bernard Shaw: "Tsk, tsk, an Irishman without the faith." Were Sheen here today, one wonders what he would say about this ----
Sunday, May 10, saw the opening in Dublin of a week long Eucharistic Congress. Only 12,000 people reportedly showed up for the opening mass in a stadium. At the last Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, in 1932, one million attended, a quarter of the country's population.
The Congresses are held to highlight the peculiar Catholic doctrine of "transubstantiation", the idea that the bread and wine at the Catholic mass are magically changed by a guy with a backward collar into the actual 98.8 degree body and blood of a Nazarene carpenter.
According to a new poll by the Irish Times, 2/3 of Irish Catholics do not believe this core doctrine and do not attend weekly services.
The Irish, justifiably upset by the massive clergy sexual abuse and coverup scandals, not to mention the Magdalene Sisters scandals, are secularizing in droves. The country's narrow abortion rights law may be liberalized and the church's long time near-monopoly on K-12 education may be ending.
In 1968 I was in Colombia when a Eucharistic Congress was held in Bogota, right after the Vatican had issued its encyclical condemning birth control. A million people were expected. Few showed up, largely as a result of the negative reaction to the anti-contraception statement.
Most Catholics are sensible people, but the Old Boys Club of bishops and pope, with their wars on women's rights, public education, religious liberty, church-state separation and Obama, seem to want to retreat into a small mental ghetto