Catholic Church in Ireland

The Irish Catholic Church, or Catholic Church in Ireland (Irish: Eaglais Chaitliceach in Éireann), is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See. With 3.7 million members, it is the largest Christian church in Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland's 2016 census, 78% of the population identified as Catholic, which represents a decrease of 6% from 2011. By contrast, 41% of Northern Ireland identified as Catholic at the 2011 census, a percentage that is expected to increase in the coming years.[1] The Primate of All Ireland is the Archbishop of Armagh. The Primate of Ireland is the Archbishop of Dublin. The church is administered on an all-Ireland basis. The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference is a consultative body for ordinaries in Ireland.


Catholic Church in Ireland
Irish: Eaglais Chaitliceach na hÉireann
TypeNational polity
ClassificationCatholic
OrientationCeltic Christianity
ScriptureBible
TheologyCatholic theology
GovernanceEpiscopal
PopeFrancis
Primate of All IrelandEamon Martin
Apostolic NuncioJude Thaddeus Okolo
RegionIreland
LanguageEnglish, Irish, Latin
HeadquartersAra Coeli, Armagh, Northern Ireland
FounderSt. Patrick
OriginClaims continuity with Celtic Christianity c.430. Roman diocesan structure introduced c.1111 at Synod of Ráth Breasail.
Gaelic Ireland
SeparationsChurch of Ireland (1536/1871)
Members3,729,000 (2016)
Official websiteIrish Bishops' Conference

Christianity has existed in Ireland since the 5th century and arrived from Roman Britain (most famously associated with Saint Patrick), forming what is today known as Gaelic Christianity. It gradually gained ground and replaced the old pagan traditions. The Catholic Church in Ireland cites its origin to this period and considers Palladius as the first bishop sent to the Gaels by Pope Celestine I. However, during the 12th century a stricter uniformity in the Western Church was enforced, with the diocesan structure introduced with the Synod of Ráth Breasail in 1111 and culminating with the Gregorian Reform which coincided with the Norman invasion of Ireland.

After the Tudor conquest of Ireland, the Catholic Church was outlawed. The English Crown attempted to export the Protestant Reformation into Ireland. By the 16th century, Irish national identity coalesced around Irish Catholicism. For several centuries, the Irish Catholic majority were suppressed, but eventually, the Church and the British Empire came to a rapprochement. Funding for Maynooth College was agreed as was Catholic Emancipation to ward off revolutionary republicanism. Following the Easter Rising of 1916 and the creation of the Irish Free State, the Church gained significant social and political influence while also incurring a number of scandals throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.