Wednesday 20 September 2017

Number of Catholics at record high but atheism also on rise, says CSO report

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

THERE are more Catholics in Ireland than ever before, but the church is losing market share due to a surge in other religions and non-believers.

The Catholic Church now has 3.86m members in Ireland, the highest since records began.



However a growing population - including a surge in people of other faiths and none - means its share of the population is actually at its lowest point.

In percentage terms, the proportion of people who are Catholic has fallen to 84.2pc from a peak of 94.9pc 50 years ago.



A new Census 2011 report on Religion, Ethnicity and Irish Travellers also reveals the significant growth in the non-Catholic population.



There has been a fourfold increase in people with no religion since 1991 and they now number 277,237, including many children and babies.



There has been a sharp rise in the number of Muslims which has more than doubled in a decade to over 49,000, and they now account for over 1pc of the population.



The Church of Ireland has seen a 6pc increase since 2006 and now has 129,036 members, the report from the Central Statistics Office shows.

The number of Orthodox Christians has doubled since 2002 to 45,223, while the Apostolic and Pentecostal churches saw a major surge to over 14,000 adherents.

There are 29,573 Travellers in the population, accounting for 0.6pc of the population, and Galway is the most popular place for them to live.

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