The Best Catholics in the World

The Best Catholics in the World

The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship

Derek Scally
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A compelling account of why Ireland was so very Catholic for so long, why that changed - and what remains now that the special relationship has endedWhen Berlin-based journalist Derek Scally goes to the Christmas Vigil Mass on a visit home to Dublin, the once-packed suburban church where he was altar boy is quiet and ageing like its congregants. The dwindling power of the Church in Ireland is undeniable. Scally sees that the Irish are dealing with just as great a shock to their sense of collective identity as the East Germans after the fall of Communism. The Best Catholics in the World is Scally' s response - an empathetic and engaging voyage into the story of Irish Catholicism- why the Church had a unique hold on the Irish; what went wrong; and how the Irish are facing - or not facing - a relationship that was dysfunctional in many respects. Researched over two years, and including dozens of interviews conducted in Ireland and further afield, The Best Catholics in the World is a lively, original, moving and thought-provoking account of a country grappling with its troubling past and confusing present.
An extraordinary story . . . At once intimate and epic, this is a landmark book -- Fintan O' Toole A great achievement . . . brilliant, engaging and essential -- Colm Toibin A clear-headed account of a changing country and a provocative insight into a time that many would rather forget -- John Boyne An engaging and incisive book that asks what keeping the faith cost us, how it shaped us and what it means now -- Caelainn Hogan * author of Republic of Shame * Remarkable . . . [Scally] examines the past with disarming honesty and a sense of compassion. His book is essential reading for anyone concerned about history and forgetting -- Michael Harding Offers some challenging end-of-an-era reflections on being Catholic in the scandal-ridden church of contemporary Ireland -- Mary McAleese Absolutely thrilling. A wonderful blend of personal story, journalism and history - it goes to unexpected places and asks questions we don' t usually consider -- Oliver Callan Accessible, original, though-provoking and very engaging -- Marie Collins
Derek Scally has written for the Irish Times since 2000. He is based in Berlin. The Best Catholics in the World is his first book.