Forbidden Fruit


Pulling no punches, this book exposes the hypocrisy of gay priests in the Catholic Church and the damage their internal homophobia wreaks on gay men in particular, the church’s damning attitude towards the LGBT community and the aftermath of the clerical abuse scandals, as well as presenting a compelling insight into Ireland, a country once embedded in Catholicism which is quickly becoming one of the most politically progressive countries of the world.

Forbidden Fruit also presents a current and real discussion on young people. Does the church envisage a strong and solid future with the next generation of church-goers? Will it embrace their energy, fresh outlook and plethora of opinions on all kinds of intelligent subjects or just revert to default position; manipulation, power and secrets?

The cracks in the Irish Catholic Church are deepening. Sparked by the clerical abuse scandals of the ‘90s and subsequent cover-ups and denials, the underpinning pillars of trust and respect continue to crumble. This explosive book investigates life and Catholicism in Ireland over the past thirty years, exposing the hypocrisy further threatening its future. We need answers: why does the church still view homosexuality as sinful when a high percentage of Catholic priests are gay? Why are homophobic Catholic priests intent on making the LGBT community (gay men, particularly) feel worthless? Using significant research and interviews with thirty Catholic priests, Forbidden Fruit responds to these controversial questions, offers a compelling insight into Ireland’s current position as one of the most politically progressive countries in the world and reflects on whether now is the time to cast aside decades of hurt and disappointment and finally forgive the church.

3 reviews for Forbidden Fruit

  1. Fr. Seamus Ahearne OSA

    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 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.

  2. Nancy Richardson Fischer, author of The Speed of Falling Objects

    Declan Henry has written an incredibly powerful book on the past, present and future of Catholicism in Ireland by wielding understanding, kindness, and the sharp insight of a journalist in equal measure. Taking the reader on an all-encompassing journey, Henry covers topics ranging from having faith to clergy, gay priests, paedophile priests, and the future of the New Church.

    Throughout this work, honest interviews with multiple priests who tell the unvarnished truth about the church they love, and well as those priests who have yet to acknowledge the church’s errors and fragilities, add insight. Thoughtful questions about homophobia, hypocrisy, the role of women, and whether celibacy is, in a way, cruel punishment that does not allow priests to emotionally grow nor adequately minister to their flock, give readers insight but let us draw our own conclusions. With an engaging and elegant writing style, Henry also shares his own poignant perceptions of the Catholic Church where he felt a sense of unrivalled belonging as well as painful rejection based on his sexuality.

    In the end, this is a work of determination and bravery. Despite the Church’s many transgressions and mistakes, the author still believes in its importance. But he finds that only by acknowledging the transgressions of the past, accepting that change is vital for survival, and that God’s love is endless, for all His children, will the church be able to move forward in a secular age.

    Final Verdict? An impressive work that is illuminating, potent, heartbreaking and hopeful by a very accomplished author.

  3. Helen Falconer, book reviewer for the Guardian newspaper

    As someone raised without a religious heritage, moving to the West of Ireland opened my eyes to the cohesive power of religion in small communities. There were lots of questions I wanted to ask but felt it would be impolite. Forbidden Fruit helped me by opening a valuable window into the current state of the church in Ireland. Is religion about encouraging love and compassion, or about social control? I can tell what side the author is on, but his curiosity and compassion extends to those who disagree with him. I suspect whether the church lives or dies in Ireland will depend a lot on the future answers to the questions raised in this book.

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As a writer, I try to incorporate both sides of humanity into my writing, having learned that life is far from grim and that there is enough kindness, compassion, love and humour to overcome life’s obstacles, regardless of how much misery, abuse, or injustice exists.
Written by Declan Henry


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