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Broken Faith

Why Hope Matters

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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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Bernadette Fahy “Suffer Little Children”

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Bernadette Fahy “Suf fer Little Children”: The Indelible Memory of Institutional Abuse Pain and suf fering sear deeply; they engrave in indelible letters on the tablets of human memory. — G. R. Scott1 I remember when I was ten years old, wondering why Goldenbridge Industrial School, where I lived, was so very violent. I remember asking myself how the women religious, in whose charge we were, could behave as violently and disrespectfully towards us as they did. A hymn, written by Philip Green in 1993, bore the title, Suf fer Little Children to come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.2 However, the treatment that many thousands of children experienced in the industrial and reformatory schools system in Ireland, over the past century and a half, bore no resemblance to the kingdom of heaven, as the hymn seemed to suggest. Instead, we were told that we were bad, dirty and unworthy because our mothers had disgraced themselves by becoming “fallen” women. We were told that our mothers were prostitutes and that we would turn out to be “just like them.” I wondered how these religious women in whose care we were made sense of Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene and the sinners and prostitutes he associated with, or how they would have reacted to Jesus had they been there when he said to the woman: “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown 1 G. R. Scott, The History of Corporal...

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