With reporting from Dublin and Belfast between March 13 and 23
Fair-skinned and wiry, Grace Ritchie looks no different than the dozen other boys staying dry in the locker room on this rainy Tuesday night. But the 13-year-old is in fact an oddity on his youth soccer team.
Although many observers have noted the impact of secularization and child abuse scandals on church membership and finances, only now are the Irish seeing the cultural and socioeconomic reverberations. These include a class of people willing to observe life’s most significant milestones outside the church.
Over burritos at a Belfast restaurant recently, he spoke about how he found his faith, what Christian churches must do to keep youth engaged and the mixing of culture, religion and politics.
In Northern Ireland, however, there is no forthcoming apology or redress for Magdelene survivors.
Mannix Flynn said the Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for its wrongs before it can change for the better.
The election of the first-ever Jesuit pope signifies a desire for change in the church, say Irish priests. Can Francis avoid becoming a ‘prisoner’ of the Vatican?
The passion sparked around the globe by Ireland’s patron saint’s day
Other Stories about the Catholic Church and the Irish
Though religion and politics mixes during election season, people who study the intersection of religion and civil society say there’s not a strong religious voice at Los Angeles City Hall in day-to-day politics. But experts and community leaders say more could be done to improve the city if religious groups could consistently come together to address local issues.
After three decades of declining enrollment, Catholic elementary schools in Los Angeles are heartened by two straight years of growth. But archdiocese policymakers say stronger leadership and innovation are needed to keep the momentum going and to position its schools as attractive and affordable alternatives to other educational options.
During the 40-day period before Easter known as Lent, Christians of all denominations traditionally focus on praying, fasting and serving the community. Capitalizing on that last pillar, charities that make a push for donations and volunteers during Christmas increasingly see Lent as a similar opportunity.
Though many global religions are struggling with membership among the digitally savvy, the Catholic Church’s plight in America is especially dire because its once-preeminent role in educating its youth is dwindling.
Some laity specifically called for a younger, more liberal and more charismatic leader than the retiring Pope Benedict. But many parishioners said the heavy thinking should be left to the electors.
The church boasts a tweeting pastor, a webcast sermon, a gay-community outreach program, a connection to the National Football League’s most recognizable quarterback, and dozens of famous and wealthy benefactors. But does any of that make the world a better place?