Being a life-long Catholic myself, but one who constantly strays, questions, and then returns, I'm fascinated by Frank's love/hate relationship with the Church. He brings it up in detail in all three of his books, which I've read, listened to, and loved. (It's a treat to listen to his books, as they're read by himself, and what a lovely voice and accent he has.) Anyway, I had the fine opportunity to meet Frank McCourt seveal months ago at a local bookstore. He gave a talk and signed books. When it was my turn to meet him, I told him that I had a burning question to ask him. "What?" he said. I said, "Mr. McCourt, after all the experiences you've had with the Catholic Church, good and bad, may I ask -- are you still a Catholic?" He laughed heartily and replied, "My dear, being a Catholic is just like being in the Mafia - once they've got you, the only release you'll get is THE GRAVE."
Baptism in the Catholic Church puts an indelible mark on your soul, you cannot erase it. You can say you 'left the Church' and not practice, but what done is done, just like being born Jewish cannot be retracted. Sometimes people don't understand that but its the Truth; so what the author said at the autograph session was the Truth.
With God in control of the Universe, and what most Catholics understand of God's Church, all other churches are clubs and who would want to depend on a club when one will stand before Almighty God one day to explain all our actions? So, Frank's answer says it all. I totally agree, but I don't agree with the use of the Mafia's as a parallel with God.