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Love's Betrayal

The Decline of Catholicism and Rise of New Religions in Ireland

Peter Mulholland

This book provides a detailed analysis of the decline of Catholicism and the almost simultaneous surge of new religious movements in Ireland during the second half of the twentieth century. After chronicling the sudden emergence of these new religious movements, some of which were associated with New Age spirituality, and considering the reactions they elicited in the Irish media and from religious and academic observers, the author explores the cultural, socioeconomic and political context in which they flourished.

Taking its title from President Mary McAleese’s response to the Ryan Report on clerical child abuse, the book traces the «systemic betrayal of the great Christian commandment to love one another» back through Irish history and into the heart of Catholic theology. It argues that the theology that transformed the «cult» of early Christianity into a great civilising power was implicated in the development of an authoritarian regime, and that this regime was undermining the faith and fostering interest in alternative spiritualities for decades before the abuse scandals of the 1990s brought the Church to its knees.

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Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Names: Mulholland, Peter (Anthropologist), author. Title: Love’s betrayal : The Decline of Catholicism and Rise of New Religions in Ireland.

/ Peter Mulholland.

Description: 1 [edition]. | New York : Peter Lang, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2019005216 | ISBN 9781787071278 (alk. paper)

Subjects: LCSH: Catholic Church--Ireland--History--20th century. | New Religious Movements--Ireland--History--20th century. | Ireland--Religion.

Classification: LCC BX1505.2 .M85 2019 | DDC 282/.4150904--dc23 LC record available at

Cover image: ‘Narcissi in Shamrock’, © Catherine Considine

ISBN 978-1-78707-127-8 (print) • ISBN 978-1-78874-431-7 (ePDF) ISBN 978-1-78874-432-4 (ePub) • ISBN 978-1-78874-433-1 (mobi)

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