Ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, a nationwide Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll has found strong public support for former President Mary McAleese's recent severe criticism of the Catholic Church.
The poll has found more than half agree with Mrs McAleese that the Church does not treat women equally, while two-thirds support her views in favour of female priests. A similar two-thirds believe Catholic priests should be allowed to marry.
In recent months, Mrs McAleese has strongly challenged the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis, stating that the Church "has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny", and has described theological objections to women priests as "pure codology".
Today's poll finds 55pc support her view that the Church does not treat women equally, with only 15pc not in agreement, a further 15pc stating 'it depends', and 15pc stating they did not know.
It also finds a significant 62pc in favour of the ordination of female priests, with 18pc against, 11pc saying that 'it depends' and 9pc did not know.
In a further related finding, a comfortable majority - 67pc - believed priests should be allowed to marry, with just 15pc opposed, 11pc saying it depends, and 8pc did not know.
These findings show the extent to which public secular opinion in Ireland is now out of step with traditional Catholic Church dogma.
In general, the poll also finds stronger opposition to the Church's principles among women and younger people, particularly in Dublin, where a significant degree of indifference to the Church - and the Pope's visit - has been detected.
The poll finds that fewer than one in five will attend a ceremony scheduled to coincide with the Pope's visit, while 64pc say they will not. However, nationwide, half (50pc) will watch ceremonies on television or online, or listen on radio.
In the Sunday Independent today, Paul Moran, associate director of Kantar Millward Brown, writes: "In effect, over two-thirds (69pc) of the population will pay heed in one way or another to this visit. For some, it will be for religious considerations, while for others it will be for the curiosity factor.
"Either way, while we are now a much more secular society, for many this is an umbilical cord to our past, despite the misgivings that we have."
The poll was taken between July 23 and August 6 among a representative sample of 875 adults at 64 sampling points nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3pc.