Majority say priests should be allowed marry


THE VAST majority (87 per cent) of Catholics believe priests should be allowed to marry, according to an Irish Times/Behaviour Attitudes social poll.

It is one of a series of findings that point to a wide gap between the views of Catholics and the teachings of the church on issues ranging from celibacy to women priests and sex before marriage.

Some 79 per cent of Catholics say they are in favour of women being allowed to join the priesthood, while just 10 per cent are opposed to such a move.

These findings also mirror the national view when all religious denominations are included.

Catholics – as well as the population at large – are also less likely to view “sins” such as sex before marriage and sexual infidelity as being very serious. They are more likely to rank indiscretions involving politicians or bankers, such as lying under oath or financial fraud, as being much more serious.

Overall, most poll respondents describe themselves as Catholic (89 per cent), while much smaller numbers are agnostic (2.5 per cent), atheist (2.5 per cent), Protestant (2 per cent) or a member of another religious faith (5 per cent).

The figures are contained in a poll on Sex, Sin and Society conducted on behalf of The Irish Times by Behaviour Attitudes. The poll, conducted last month, involved a national representative sample of just over 1,000 people at 100 sampling points across the State.

The results also point to a major gap between younger and older people over issues such as religion.

In total, just 4 per cent of young people consider themselves “strongly religious”, compared to 30 per cent of those aged 65 or more, a seven-fold difference.

This pattern is repeated when people are asked how often they attend religious ceremonies.

While most older people (60 per cent) attend their church every week, just 15 per cent of young people aged between 18 and 34 say they do so.

The poll reflects very divided opinion regarding the tolerance of non-Catholic religions in Ireland.

Almost half (49 per cent) say wearing the burka in public should be banned, while more than a third (36 per cent) say it should not.

Older people are more likely to support such a ban than oppose it. A total of 57 per cent of those aged 45 years or more say it should be outlawed. The opposite is the case among young people, with a majority opposed to any ban.