A LARGE majority of Irish Catholics believe that priests should be allowed to marry, according to a survey conducted in the republic following the Bishop Casey affair.
Almost seven out of ten people in Ireland think celibacy should no longer be compulsory, the opinion poll in the country's Sunday Press newspaper finds.
A majority of Irish Catholics have lost some confidence in the Church's leadership on moral and social issues, the poll shows. Around 60 per cent support the introduction of women priests.
The survey marks the clearest attempt to guage the views of the Irish man in the street since the resignation of Bishop Eamonn Casey.
It shows a surprising degree of sympathy for Bishop Casey, but most felt he should have resigned 17 years ago when he first discovered he was the father of Annie Murphy's child.
There was overwhelming disapproval for the way Bishop Casey used diocesan funds to pay the Murphys over the years.
But there was also criticism of Annie Murphy's motives for going public on the affair, which were considered to have been largely for financial gain.