Fintan O’Toole: Catholic Ireland is now a religious rust belt of half-empty churches

The authoritarian version of Catholicism is over. In other forms it is alive and well

The vigil for Cameron Reilly at St Brigid’s church, Dunleer, Co Louth. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The vigil for Cameron Reilly at St Brigid’s church, Dunleer, Co Louth. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

On Friday of last week, the people of Dunleer in Co Louth went to the local national school to mark their ballot papers in the referendum. There is no reason to think they voted differently from the rest of Louth.

So two-thirds of them most probably defied the wishes of their bishop who, as it happens, is the Catholic primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin. He had made it very clear that the faithful were expected not just to vote against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment but to “be missionaries for the cause of life” and actively campaign for a No vote.

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