New research has shown that the vast majority of Irish Catholics believe that priests should be allowed to marry.
The survey, undertaken by Amárach Research, under the auspices of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), found that 87% were in favour of married priests.
A total of 77% of respondents felt that women should be allowed to become priests.
The study also revealed a major disconnect between official church teaching and Irish Catholics themselves.
The survey found that three quarters of respondents did not see Catholic church teachings on sexuality as relevant to them or to their family, and 61% disagreed with the Church’s stance “that any sexual expression of love between gay couples is immoral”.
The survey also found that 35% of Catholics claim to go to Mass once a week. Some 51% said that they attended once a month, with 5% never attending Mass.
“This is very a significant number of people attending Mass, higher than in most European countries,” said Fr Sean McDonagh, representing the ACP.
“Recent remarks by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on CBS ‘60 Minutes’ that only 2% attend Mass in some parishes, if taken out of context, might lead people to believe that Mass attendance in Ireland has completely collapsed. The survey shows that this is not the case.”
The survey was carried out among 1,000 Catholics over a two-week period in February.