Life and Catholicism in Contemporary Ireland
By Declan Henry.
Published by The London Press. 2020.
This book is angry. It screams. It is volcanic. The lava spills over and burns everything in its wake. It is highly explosive. It is riddled with hyperbole. It is excessive. It exaggerates. And then it subsides. There is a whimper and a cry. There is a hankering for something. Then there is a gentleness and a softness. It craves the God who too often was hidden in the institution.
I was surprised that Peter McVerry and his work didn’t really appear. I was surprised that Merchants Quay didn’t surface. I was surprised that Brother Kevin, in Church Street, wasn’t portrayed. I was surprised that Sr Consilio was absent. I was surprised that the whole history of education; social work and care for the poor – was neglected. But I could understand. Hurt and anger clouds everything.
The core issue was sexual misadventure. The misunderstanding of sexuality in the Church, was very wrong. The reduction of sexuality to sin or procreation, was a painful rejection of the incarnation. The treatment of homosexuality as disorderly was/is – disgraceful. The cult of celibacy, is a rejection of humanity and indeed of Christ. Declan covers all of this very well.
Declan’s treatment of paedophilia generally and clerical abuse in particular, is quite brilliant. It is clear and calmly expressed. Many could learn from him. His wishes and hope for a new Church are heart-felt. Many of us would join in the chorus and harmonise with his song.
Last word. Declan Henry has written fluently with a hurting heart but with an ache for the beauty of faith. Some of us would stand with him and say Yes.
At times, I didn’t recognise the Ireland Declan described.
At times I recognised, too sadly, the Church he painted on the pages.
There is an honest anger throughout. His scream will go on until more of us, take up the cudgels and fight to let the real Christ be revealed in our Church. Thank you Declan Henry.
Seamus Ahearne osa