top of page
  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New BBC documentary looks to the future of the Catholic Church on the island of Ireland

Journalist Kevin Magee presents In Ainm An Athar (Image: Clean Slate TV)


With Mass attendance declining and a shortage of priests, a new BBC Gaeilge documentary asks if the Catholic Church on the island of Ireland can weather one of the most challenging storms in its history.


In the film, journalist Kevin Magee embarks on a journey of discovery through a series of revealing interviews with current members of the clergy, former priests, Catholic laity, the LGBTQ+ community and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland.



He also examines the ongoing worldwide Synodal process, initiated by Pope Francis, which aims to renew the Church for the world’s 1.4 billion Catholics.


With important decisions to be made around celibacy, LGBTQ+ rights and opening up the priesthood to women, In Ainm An Athar explores how the Catholic Church might look in the future.


Lisa Nic An Bhreithimh, Reverend Gary Hastings from the Church of Ireland, Father Nideesh Varghese, and The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown.

(Left to right, top to bottom) Lisa Nic An Bhreithimh, Reverend Gary Hastings from the Church of Ireland, Father Nideesh Varghese, and The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown.


In Ainm An Athar, has been made for BBC Gaeilge by Clean Slate TV with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, and will be available on Sunday 24 March on BBC iPlayer and BBC Two Northern Ireland at 10pm.



The documentary also charts the decline of the Catholic Church on the island of Ireland from the 1960s onwards and explores present day concerns around the scandals that rocked Irish Catholicism including decades of institutional abuse, clerical sexual abuse, and stories of neglect and punishment in religious-run establishments such as the Magdalene laundries.


Currently, there are not enough new recruits to replace ageing priests and in recent decades there has been a dramatic fall in the number of people attending Mass. This shift could lead to fewer masses, parishes being forced to amalgamate and services traditionally presided over by priests, such as funerals and baptisms, being carried out by the laity.



The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, also points out that Ireland currently has 26 dioceses, one less than Germany which is almost five times bigger.


We also hear a range of opinions from contributors including former President Mary McAleese, Father Brian D’Arcy and Reverend Gary Hastings from the Church of Ireland, as they reflect on these past and current issues.


In Ainm An Athar is on Sunday 24 March at 10pm on BBC iPlayer and BBC Two Northern Ireland.

Comments


bottom of page