In the wake of the publication of the Murphy Report in November 2009, many people are beginning to question whether the Catholic Church in Ireland has a viable future. This book, with its eclectic mix of contributors - consisting of survivors, cultural commentators, theologians, historians, journalists, a Church of Ireland bishop - interrogates Irish Catholicism post-Murphy and asks some searching questions.
To what extent did the dominant culture of secrecy within the Dublin Archdiocese contribute to clerical abusers remaining undetected for so long? Has there been a failure by the institutional Church to communicate its position in a coherent manner? To what can be attributed the lamentable mismanagement of the crisis by the hierarchy? Is it capable of learning from past mistakes? Is there any hope for the Catholic Church if its leaders fail to address the wrongs that have been done to innocent children?
This book may upset some people and anger others. It will undoubtedly not meet with universal approval. That is quite understandable. While contributors tackle the issue from differing perspectives, individual chapters have nonetheless the ring of sincerity and authenticity. Such emotions cannot be faked. When they are, the reader senses it immediately.
Reading this book will be a step towards understanding the watershed that the Dublin/Murphy Report represents for Irish Catholicism. Contributors are Timothy Radcliffe OP, Andrew Madden, Colum Kenny, Richard Clarke, Marie Collins, Patrick McCafferty, Sean OConaill, Breda OBrien, Eugene OBrien, Sean Ruth, Enda McDonagh, Eamonn Conway, Eddie Shaw, Donald Cozzens, Garry OSullivan and Louise Fuller.
Eamon Maher is Director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies at the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, Dublin. His publications concentrate in the main on various aspects of the Franco-Irish nexus and he is currently writing a book on the Catholic Novel.
John Littleton, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, is Director of The Priory Institute, Tallaght, Dublin. He has a particular interest in relating the principles of organisational culture and development to changing Church structures. He is a weekly columnist with The Catholic Times.
The scandal of clerical sex abuse has rocked the Catholic Church not just in Ireland but in other young children, it was the protection of the abusers and the cover-up of accusations against them that caused an outcry with consequences for the wider church. In November 2009 the Murphy Report was published chronicling the scale of abuse and cover-up within the archdiocese of Dublin. Its shockwaves are still reverberating and this book examines some serious questions arising from the report. There is a wide range of contributors such as survivors of abuse, historians, theologians and even a Protestant bishop. Despite the best efforts of some of them, there are no easy answers and no simple response to the Murphy report. Most of the essays express confusion and uncertainty about how the church should respond and the wider social implications of the scandal.
- Books Ireland, May 2010