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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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Patrick Claffey Broken Faith and the Search for Hope


For, while the tale of how we suf fer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness. — James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues Introduction The day after the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009,1 I was travelling on a train from Dublin to Tralee. Sitting in the opposite aisle were two elderly women, one going to visit her family, while the other was eventually joined by her sister, a retired religious in civil attire, as they set out on a few days holiday together. The conversation turned almost inevitably to Ryan. Their reaction was interesting; it was a painful mix of a strange and very visceral anger towards the victims of abuse expressed in the most negative terms; a defence of the Church institution and those representing it, com- menting that religious themselves often led lives of material and af fective deprivation; while, at the same time, there was an anger that was dif fuse and directed at everybody and nobody, including the Church. The Ryan 1 Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report, 5 vols (Dublin: Government Publications, 2009). 2 Patrick Claffey Report had, of course, been preceded by the Ferns Report2 and would soon be followed by the Dublin3 and Cloyne4 Reports. The cumulative ef fect of all of these has been devastating, as they revealed shocking levels of psychological, physical...

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