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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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Thomas R. Whelan Culture of Clericalism


Thomas R. Whelan Culture of Clericalism: Towards a Theological Deconstruction The pain that survivors of clerical sexual and institutional abuse have expe- rienced is something that will never be erased from the memory of society or of the Church. Most particularly for victims and survivors, this was compounded by a refusal on the part of ecclesial and civil authorities to take their stories seriously. The experiences of survivors point to deeper questions that relate to Church: what is the “Gospel-purpose” of Church? How does it organise itself, how does it perceive its relationship with God in Christ, and how does it think it should communicate to people the story of salvation? Church is authentic only to the extent that it incarnates through its members the face of a God who saves and reaches out to all. Its internal structures must serve this central aspect of the missio Dei. That sexual, physical and emotional abuse should be perpetrated is horrific; that religious, priests and bishops should then, in most cases, place ecclesiastical and institutional interests before those of victims and survivors borders on apostasy. Many commentators identify a “culture of clericalism” as being an important factor, among many others, that lies at the heart of the inadequate response by Church authorities to allegations of abuse. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin states that “the narrow culture of clericalism has to be eliminated,”1 indicating that the issue is to be located in 1 Speaking Notes of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, “‘Keeping the Show on the...

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