Rocked in recent years by sex-abuse scandals
and crises in leadership, the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland has been struggling to keep its members close.
But this week, a new global survey on faith and atheism
has revealed that the crisis of faith in Ireland may be much worse than previously thought.
According to the poll released by WIN-Gallup International, the traditionally Catholic country has seen one of the steepest drops worldwide in religiosity.
The poll -- which was based on interviews with more than 50,000 people selected from 57 countries
-- asked participants, "irrespective of whether they attended a place of worship, if they considered themselves to be religious, not religious, or an atheist."
In Ireland, only 47 percent of those polled
said they considered themselves religious -- a 22-point drop from the 69 percent recorded in a similar poll conducted in 2005. In addition, 10 percent self-identified as atheist.
The only country that registered a steeper decline in religiosity was Vietnam,
which saw a 23-point drop from 53 percent to 30 percent. However, Ireland and Vietnam were not unique in this dip in faith,
According to the global index, there has been a notable decline in religiosity worldwide.
Current data shows that the number of people worldwide who call themselves religious is now 59 percent,
while 13 percent self-identify as atheist.
However, according to trending data, religiosity has fallen by 9 points globally since 2005
and the number of people who identify as atheist rose from 4 percent to 7 percent. Note that only 40 countries were polled in both 2005 and 2012, so there are two different sets of data available.