Highly religious young Catholics in Northern Ireland: renewing the Catholic landscape?

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This article explores findings from a 2022 survey of students associated with the Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen's University, Belfast. It is the first study to investigate the beliefs, practices, and experiences of highly religious young Catholics in Northern Ireland. It presents survey findings on beliefs, practices, and influences on faith; dynamics of increased religiosity; and views on Church teachings on same sex relationships, euthanasia, sexual relationships, and abortion. Women are more likely to disagree with Church teachings on these issues than men. The survey confirms the importance of family socialization but finds that a substantial minority experience religious change at university. Respondents prioritize renewal but disagree on how to prompt it: some advocate greater ‘openness’ to women, LGBTQ+, and others perceived as marginalized; and others feel ‘evangelization’ should be emphasized. ‘Post-secular Catholicism’ is used as a foundation for reflections on religious persistence among Northern Ireland's young Catholics, raising questions about their potential role in renewing Ireland's Catholic landscape in light of the synodal process underway in the Church.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13065
Number of pages15
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number7
Early online date27 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Catholicism
  • post-secular
  • Post-Catholic
  • Secularization
  • Northern Ireland
  • Ireland
  • synodality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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