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Broken Faith

Why Hope Matters


Edited By Patrick Claffey, Joe Egan and Marie Keenan

This book is a theological reflection on the broken state of faith within the Catholic Church in Ireland following more than two decades of revelations about institutional and child sexual abuse and the Church’s now acknowledged failure to respond to the abuse in an appropriate way. The result has been broken lives, broken faith and a broken church.
While the book has a theological purpose, it employs a see–judge–act methodology in attempting to come to terms with a very complex problem. Following a broad introduction, the first section sets out to listen to the voices of the victims. The second section consists of an interdisciplinary academic analysis, with significant input from psychology and also from history and social studies. The final section of the book engages in theology, seeking to place us in a Kairos moment that might allow us to look beyond our broken faith. This, however, requires an analysis of the theological misunderstandings that led to the aberration of clericalism, the resulting abuse of power and the wider malaise within the Church. St Paul is suggested as a «mentor», as we seek to restore trust and rebuild the Church in a radically new way. The book ultimately seeks a renewal of our broken faith, searching for trajectories towards healing and wholeness, truth and reconciliation.


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This work has its origins in a conference, Broken Faith: Re-visioning the Church in Ireland, held at the Milltown Institute, Dublin, 6–9 April 2011. The conference sought to engage with the clerical child sexual abuse scandal which has had a devastating impact on the victims and survivors of the abuse, undermined the faith of believers and seriously compromised the witness of the Church over the past two decades. As the editors of this work, we would like to thank those who attended that conference and who contributed in so many ways to its success. The wholehearted participation of all in the proceedings and their critical engagement with the questions that arose were indicative of a deep com- mitment to a faith that had, in many respects, been left in tatters by the revelations of abuse and the attempts to cover it up; yet they were also pointers to a hope that was both resilient in facing the future and search- ing in its determination to discern a way ahead in accordance with the gospel. In keeping with that vision, this collection of essays seeks to bring the debate to a wider audience, in the conviction that only by critically engaging with the questions in respectful dialogue and solidarity will the scandal be overcome and the journey to healing and begin wholeness. This project of ref lection was set in motion in 2010, and work on it has continued over the past two years. Numerous people contributed to that process,...

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