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Non-religious weddings outnumber Catholic weddings in Ireland – IrishCentral

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Non-religious marriages significantly outnumbered Catholic marriages in Ireland in 2023, according to data from the Central Statistics Office. 

There were 7,256 Catholic wedding ceremonies in Ireland in 2023, accounting for 35.4% of the total of 21,159 weddings that took place in the country last year. Non-religious, ceremonies, on the other hand, accounted for 40.3% of weddings in 2023. 

The proportion of Catholic weddings in Ireland has fallen sharply from 2022, when 40.5% of all weddings were Catholic. Meanwhile, Catholic weddings accounted for 93% of all weddings in 1990. 

Over 1,700 ceremonies were humanist in 2023, while the Spiritualist Union of Ireland performed 1,674 weddings (7.9%). 

Church of Ireland weddings accounted for just 1.1% of the total figure, while 3,470 (16%) of couples opted for other religious ceremonies. 

Barbara Ryan, a wedding celebrant based in Bray, County Wicklow, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that she is receiving more inquiries for non-religious ceremonies “year on year”. 

Ryan said there is a “mix of reasons” as to why couples are opting for non-religious ceremonies but suggested that one of the main reasons was flexibility in location, allowing couples to hold the ceremony and celebration in the same location. 

She added that many couples want a ceremony that is “focused on them, the reasons they love each other”. 

Non-profit Education Equality has said that the CSO report highlights the need for the reform of Ireland’s education system. 

The group states that the 2023 marriage statistics act as a barometer of religious belief and practice in Ireland and said schools should reflect the diversity of modern-day Ireland. 

“Non-religious marriages have outnumbered Catholic marriages three times in the past four years,” Education Equality Communications Officer David Graham said in a statement.

“These figures provide firm evidence of a changing population with respect to religious belief and practice. What will it take before the Government finally responds to the calls for change from parents across the country? Religion is a choice, not an obligation. Our taxpayer-funded education system is forcing religion on families against their will, in breach of their human and constitutional rights.

“Schools should serve local communities in all their diversity, without regard to people’s religion or beliefs. It is not the role of our education system to evangelize children. Religious faith formation and sacramental preparation should be offered outside the curriculum to those who want it, not imposed during school hours on those who don’t.

“We need to respect children’s and teachers’ rights to freedom of religion and belief. Our current education system – where over 95% of our taxpayer-funded schools operate a religious-integrated curriculum with no effective opt-out for children or teachers – is clearly not fit for purpose.” 

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