The church in Ireland is undergoing “persecution”, with people directing “anger” at clergy, bishops have said.

Speaking at a priest’s ordination Mass, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns said: “You will feel the anger/hostility people have for the Church in general directed at you.

“There is a lot of concern in Church circles these days about the future,” he said.

“This is understandable given the volume of criticism and negativity directed at the Church over recent times.”

But he said that Catholics should not be fearful. “In these Pentecost days we need to cast off our fears too. We are not the first generation of Christians to worry and wonder about the future. In every age people have written the obituary of the Church and our age is no exception,” the bishop said.

Last week Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore said that hostility to the Church was now a “settled part” of Irish culture.

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