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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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Michael Cronin Fear and Loathing in the Republic: Why Hope Matters


Kevin Thunder, the narrator of Neil Jordan’s Mistaken (2011), tries to cap- ture the world of his schooldays. What he remembers most are the sounds: St Joseph’s was the school I went to – Joey’s we called it, a grey cement building on Fairview Strand run by Christian Brothers, the name being the only Christian thing about them. I remember school there as a series of sounds: the smack of leather against an outstretched palm, the quick intake of breath, heads banged against wooden desks, the swish of beads and soutanes, hurleys raising clumps of mud, smacking of f other hurleys, cracking against knuckles, heads and, occasionally of f a sliotar, a tough, stitched leather ball.1 The sounds conjure up images and the images are all too familiar. On the screen from Angela’s Ashes (1999) to The Magdalene Sisters (2002) to Song for a Raggy Boy (2003), the iconography of fear is clerical. The routine association of the Church is with repression, punishment and dread. When Mary Raftery produced a documentary series on abuse in Church-run institutions, the title not surprisingly was States of Fear (1999). The har- rowing, human detail of the Ryan and Murphy Reports showed that there was substance to the images and that the writers and film makers had, as so often before in Ireland, given voice to the voiceless. What I want to argue in this chapter, however, is that we have not so much transcended as inherited new states of fear that are profoundly dehumanising...

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