Irish churches growing

By on September 1, 2003

The Anglican and Presbyterian churches in the Republic of Ireland have recorded their first increases in support since at least 1881, according to a government census. Over the past decade, the (Anglican) Church of Ireland grew by 30 per cent, to 115,611, and Presbyterians leapt by 56 per cent, to 20,582. Both figures, disclosed in the 2002 Irish national census published this year, easily outstripped population growth. “Some of the growth we believe is from Roman Catholics converting to Anglicanism,” Brian Parker, spokesman for the Church of Ireland, told ENI. “Pedophile scandals have had an effect among Catholics, and some, particularly young people, feel a general discontent at the conservative edge of the [Catholic] leadership.” Mr. Parker said the Anglican membership figures had benefited from a new census entry, “Church of Ireland/Protestant”, which included Protestants without a denominational allegiance.The Central Statistics Office in Dublin says immigration is an important factor in the growth of the main Protestant faiths. Throughout the 1990s Ireland enjoyed one of the European Union’s most buoyant economies and was known as the “Celtic Tiger.” Ireland – excluding six counties in the north, which are part of the United Kingdom – remains an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country.

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