The Best Catholics in the World: The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship

Derek Scally digs deep to understand rather than condemn collusion and betrayal of faith

 Pope Francis at the Festival of Families at Croke Park on August 25th, 2018:  “Grappling Catholic” Derek Scally has written a book rich with history, interrogation and emotional intelligence. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Pope Francis at the Festival of Families at Croke Park on August 25th, 2018: “Grappling Catholic” Derek Scally has written a book rich with history, interrogation and emotional intelligence. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

In 2010, Derek Scally was so infuriated with the papal letter sent to Irish Catholic bishops about clerical sexual abuse that he wrote to Pope Benedict XVI “in my best blunt German”, noting that neither Benedict nor the Holy See were taking any responsibility in relation to the matter. The pope had suggested the Irish bishops’ response to abuse had “obscured the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution had succeeded in doing”.

Scally was not expecting a reply. But a month later “a creamy white envelope arrived from the Holy See. Inside: papal rosary beads. The Holy See’s equivalent of a corporate form letter: ‘Your opinion is important to us’.”

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