Archbishop of Canterbury hits an Irish Catholic nerve
In answer to a BBC interviewer, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the blistering truth about the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland:
And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility – that’s not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland.
Without retracting, Williams responded today to the avowedly “stunned” Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, by saying he meant no offense and regretted any difficulties his remarks had caused.
Indeed, how could he retract? He was talking about a country where a recent poll by the Irish Independent found: “Just over half believe that Pope Benedict, who faces allegations of covering up sex abuse in the US and in Germany, should resign.”
That poll is part of the evidence that both the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are losing public esteem hand over fist, worldwide. For example, a similar poll in Austria found that 57% believe the pope should resign. While:
More than 53,000 people left the Catholic Church in Austria in 2009, and local figures for the first three months of this year hint that last year’s record number could be exceeded.
Likewise, a Stern Magazine poll found that only 24 percent of Germans still trust the Pope, whereas six weeks ago 38 percent said they did. And “19 percent of Germany’s estimated 25 million Catholics were thinking about leaving the Church in response to the sexual abuse scandal.”
A CBS poll found that in the U.S., 24 percent of Americans view Pope Benedict XVI negatively — a startling change from 4% in 2006. While his favorable rating among Catholics plummeted from 40% to 27%.
Stinging fellow clerics who in passing state the obvious will not reverse the decline, and because sharp protests of the undeniable are not likely to be well-received, may accelerate it.
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