I am questioning this morning if my proposed research for 2010 and subsequent years is going to be more historical than cultural geography. The more the opportunity for change is squandered on pinhead-dancing arguments about responsibility, the less likely we are able to determine which of the 1,000 cuts mortally wounded the institutional Catholic Church in Ireland. Promising organisational change and how this makes the headlines of national newspapers tells us about the triumph of style over substance since the Murphy report’s publication. That the main message about the ending of the winter conference is that ‘bishops will not resign’ is just pointless. In reading and writing about secularisation over the last five or so months and in preparation for the proposal which I have just given to The Supervisor, I may find myself less concerned with the institutional church and more with an analysis of the spectrum of an evident need for faith.
I am proceeding with my study about geographic scale and secularisation in the Irish public sphere at a time when the process is accelerating in its intensity. Is there going to be a point in the next five or so years at which I will be writing about the past or about the present? At the same time, I’ll be working within an organisation that is likely to be, in the current parlance, ‘transformed’ in the same way as the Irish public service is going to be transformed. The desacralisation of the public sphere has already taken place; it is the fragmentation of this public sphere from any moral centre that may well be of more concern.