Eamon Delaney: Targeting of schools' chaplains is latest sally in Labour's secular crusade
The poet Seamus Heaney was buried this week in a moving Catholic ceremony. He was not especially Catholic and although deeply spiritual he was sceptical about religion. But, like so many of us, the poet was reared in a Catholic atmosphere and the culture of that faith still informed the rituals of his life and death.
It is the same with the rest of the country, where, despite the retreat of Catholicism as a powerful influence, and despite the advance of secularism and multiculturalism, the ethos of Catholicism still remains as a spiritual and civic framework. Regardless of actual 'belief', we are happy to avail of the Catholic rituals of baptisms, weddings and funerals to mark the significant moments in our lives.
Nominally, Catholic schools are still the main educators in our society and the church still has a key role in our hospitals, even if it is nothing like the hands-on involvement of before. But the reality is that the church is on a retreat from Irish life, on all levels.