Derek Scally The Best Catholics in the World


Code 9781844885275
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The Number One Bestseller

Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2021

When Dubliner Derek Scally goes to Christmas Eve Mass on a visit home from Berlin, he finds more memories than congregants in the church where he was once an altar boy. Not for the first time, the collapse of the Catholic Church in Ireland brings to mind the fall of another powerful ideology - East German communism. While Germans are engaging earnestly with their past, Scally sees nothing comparable going on in his native land. So he embarks on a quest to unravel the tight hold the Church had on the Irish.

He travels the length and breadth of Ireland and across Europe, going to Masses, novenas, shrines and seminaries, talking to those who have abandoned the Church and those who have held on, to survivors and campaigners, to writers, historians, psychologists and many more. And he has probing and revealing encounters with Vatican officials, priests and religious along the way.

The Best Catholics in the World is the remarkable result of his three-year journey. With wit, wisdom and compassion Scally gives voice and definition to the murky and difficult questions that face a society coming to terms with its troubling past. It is both a lively personal odyssey and a resonant and gripping work of reporting that is a major contribution to the story of Ireland.

About the Author

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.

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'An extraordinary story ... At once intimate and epic, this is a landmark book'
- Fintan O'Toole

'A great achievement ... brilliant, engaging and essential'
- Colm Tóibín

'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, thought-provoking and very engaging'
- Marie Collins

'A wonderful book'
- Catriona Crowe

'Reflective, textured, insightful and original ... rich with history, interrogation and emotional intelligence'
- Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Times

'A highly intelligent, patriotic work'
- Business Post

- Irish Examiner

'Excellent and timely'
- Sunday Times


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