In the aftermath of the publication of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse Report (popularly referred to as the Ryan Report) and when the findings of the investigation into the handling of clerical sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese are about to be made public, this book invites a wide range of people to answer honestly and frankly the very searching question, What Being Catholic Means to Me. These are difficult times for anyone to be a Catholic in Ireland. There is a natural tendency to paint everyone with the same brush. But being Catholic means something different for each and every one of us. Each person interprets the Gospel in his or her particular way. Each experiences the rituals of the Church, the ministry of priests and lay people, the transmission of the word, as individuals who are part of a wider community. The fact that the Church is undergoing serious upheaval in Ireland is not in itself a valid reason for everyone to get up and leave it. Equally, no one should stay a member simply because of habit or the absence of a viable alternative.
Approximately 25 people from all walks of life contribute short essays on what it means to them to be Catholic. The contributors include: Conor Brady, Finola Bruton, Patricia Casey, Thomas Finegan, Mark Patrick Hederman, Seán Kelly, Mary T. Malone, Enda McDonagh, Patsy McGarry, Peter McVerry, Andrew OConnell, Mary ODonnell, Colm OGorman, Nuala OLoan, Garry OSullivan, David Quinn, William Reville, Brendan Ryan, Aidan Troy, D. Vincent Twomey, John Waters.
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.
Readers will have already had a taste of this book in the extracts being run in this paper for Advent. What strikes the reader at once is the sheer variety of feelings and thoughts which the compilers have gathered from their contributors. That variety suggests a widespread interest and creativity of approach and lifestyle from which only good can come in making religion and spirituality more relevant in all its aspects, not only to the faithful, whoever they are, but to everyone. For the right kind of person this would an ideal gift.
- Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic, 17 Dec 2009