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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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John L. Allen Jr Between Reform and Realism

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John L. Allen Jr Between Reform and Realism: How the Sexual Abuse Crisis Is (and Isn’t) Changing the Church In 2009 I published a book titled The Future Church, the aim of which was to do for the Catholic Church what Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat did for geo-politics: outline the basic drivers of global history in the early twenty-first century, and try to project what they might mean for the near- term future. At the time, I pondered about including the sexual abuse crisis among those defining forces in Catholic life, and opted against it. One of the criteria I drew upon was that to be considered a mega-trend, a force had to be global, at least in principle, and it wasn’t yet clear in 2009 that the sexual abuse crisis qualified. That, of course, was before the wave of European scandals which erupted in 2010, which quickly brought the role of both Pope Benedict XVI himself and the Vatican into the dock, and suggested that any hopes the crisis might be near an end were significantly misplaced. Today, I’m still not sure that I would include the crisis and its aftermath on a list of fundamental trends in Catholicism; for one thing, it’s not yet clear if the scandals will have the same devastating impact on the Church in non-Western cultures. For another, long experience teaches that the very middle of a crisis is almost certainly the wrong time to make judgments about its long-term impact. That...

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