World Notes & Quotes

In Rural Ireland, Church Much Stronger

IRISH TIMES, Nov. 5—A recent survey in Ireland found Mass attendance is still relatively high in the country—if you look outside the cities.

Irish Archbishop Dermot Clifford said that he would like to see an increase in numbers attending confession and saying a family rosary, but he was quoted saying, “The prevailing wisdom that the Catholic Church is in terminal decline is given the lie here and in rural Ireland in particular.”

Conducted by Irish Marketing Surveys, the attendance study found that the national average of 65% of Catholics attending Sunday Mass was significantly different in rural archdioceses, like the one including much of Tipperary and Limerick. There, even the least-interested age group—18 to 34 year olds—almost met the national average, with 60% attending. For other age groups, the number was 94%.

Other rural findings: 65% of adult Irish Catholics pray daily, and 70% use holy water frequently. Nearly all were faithful to the magisterium: only 5% thought priests should be allowed to marry, and only 3% even considered dissenting on Church teaching that women can't be ordained.

Hit Pop Singer says “Abortion is Murder”

IRISH TIMES, Nov. 6—An Irish Times interviewer made the mistake recently of assuming Natalie Merchant was pro-abortion. Merchant was once the lead singer for the hit pop singing group 10,000 Maniacs. Since leaving the group she has become a popular solo pop singer.

The interviewer asked her if she wasn't a little frightened by the violence of “right-wing Christian fundamentalists” who might not like the cover of Merchant's album, where the singer is dressed as a nun. The interviewer even mentioned the recent killing of an abortion doctor as cause for alarm.

Merchant responded that she grew up Catholic and admires the Church, has great respect for nuns, and that she was not, “one of those moderns who totally discounts the convictions of thousands of people who go to their death for those beliefs.”

“Don and Karen Peris, who play on my album, are devout Catholics. I don't mess with that!” she told the paper.

She added: “And, as for the murder you mention... of course, I don't take things like that lightly.” Nevertheless, “it is criminal that so many out-spoken feminists, and members of the ‘pro-choice’ movement, deny the argument that life begins at conception.

“As much as I am annoyed by the tactics of the so-called pro-lifers, I'm also annoyed by the tactics of the ‘pro-choice’ people.... They both have valid arguments and in the work I've done with the pro-choice movement, I'm the one who stands up and says ‘personally, I think abortion is murder and that's why I've never had an abortion.’ But most of my friends have had abortions and I don't judge them on that. So all I'm saying is, let's not stifle the argument, let's not try to silence one side of the debate. Too many in the pro-choice movement do just that, shouting down the opposite point of view.”