Countryaah data, about 90 percent of the population of Ireland belongs to
the Catholic Church, but there are also Anglicans (3
percent) and other Christians (1 percent), including
Presbyterians and Methodists. The remaining are supporters
of other religions (3 percent) or non-religious.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has four archdiocese and
26 dioceses. Anglicans have two archdiocese and 11 dioceses.
Christian schools offer Christian education adapted to the
confession of the children.
The Anglican Church was a state church until 1869, when
church and state were separated. During the nationalist
struggle for secession from Britain, the Catholic Church was
a natural rallying point supporting the struggle of the
people. It had almost full support and strong indirect
power. With the formation of the new republic in 1922, the
church gained great power over the legislation. Several
constitutional changes in the 1920s and 1930s were
characterized by Catholic ideology, such as the prohibitions
on divorce and birth control (1935). The role of the church
was further strengthened in the revised Constitution of
1937. Catholicism was early institutionalized in the school
system, and its ideological influence resulted, among other
things, in the criminalization of "immoral" fiction, such as
James Joyce, and literature on child restraint.
Although the Catholic Church in the 1980s and 1990s
strongly engaged in current political issues, including the
legalization of abortion (referendums 1983 and 1992) and
divorce (referendum 1986 and 1995), its position has changed
dramatically. The church has lost much of its direct
political power, including as head of educational policy and
practice, and as the premier of sexual moral ideology and
practice. The changes started in earnest towards the end of
the 1960s, and coincide with the momentum of modernity in
Ireland, the emergence of the new women's movement and its
demands for change, and from 1973 with the EU membership.
The abolition of the hegemony of the Catholic Church does
not mean that the Irish no longer define themselves as
Christians. Still, up to 90 per cent of the population wants
to keep the Catholic rituals associated with birth, marriage
and death, and although new generations are less religiously
active than their predecessors, Ireland, compared to other
European states, is still a distinct Catholic nation.