The Catholic Church hopes that the findings of a survey of religious life will help plan for future vocations.
The survey was commissioned by the Diocese of Killaloe and interviewed 900 Catholics in the diocese to help develop a vocations strategy. The results found the 62% are regular mass goers but only 42% of under forty year olds. 92% considered that their local priest was doing a good job. 16.5% of respondents said that they had considered pursuing a religious vocation.
Bishop Willie Walsh was encouraged by the results but acknowledges that the church faces huge challenges to encourage people to enter religious life.
The reality is that for the first time in living memory we as a diocese have no students studying for the priesthood at the moment and that is certainly worrying.
Celibacy and the recent scandals were seen as significant negative factors for the church. The results of the Killaloe survey will be made available to all parishioners at masses on Sunday.
These findings were further reinforced by an RTÉ Prime Time survey which found that 25% felt that religious orders were to blame for institutional child abuse. The Prime Time survey also found that 38% did not believe in the infallibility of the pope.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 September 2003. The reporter is Cathy Halloran.