Father Andrew Greeley was just a name to me for most of my adult life. Many of my friends and associates knew that I went to a parochial grammar school, so they often, mistakenly, assumed I had some knowledge of his books. Inside and outside the Church they became controversial along with a best-seller readership repute. Over this summer my wife has collected 14 of his titles. This review and the second part of his last decade and a half after Confessions of a Parish Priest includes, Furthermore, which is a continuation of his original autobiography.
If you enjoy reading biographies, and I am one that does, Fr. Greeley's two books will please you to no end. If you intend to read some of his best sellers the information about his church, parish and teaching life will put you on a solid path to enjoying his fiction. The writing style for his memoirs continues into his fiction and non-fiction. I became taken by his feisty and thoughtful view of the world and the Church. He spares neither the rigidity of the right, the timidity of the bishops, the mediocrity and envy of the left, nor his own errors and mistakes.
He fastidiously defends his novels against those who dismiss them as "pornography" or "trash" and argues argues with massive evidence and conviction that they have precisely the effect he intends as “comedies of grace.”
Confessions of a Priest is an in depth road-map of Greeley's body and soul. His imagination and spirituality overflows throughout every one of his writings. Many church insiders criticized the fact that he wrote fiction, calling it immoral and bad, but the curious thing about this is that these criticisms came from people who had never read a single volume of his writings.
Fr. Greeley also reveals, often with warmly nostalgic affection, the experiences of neighborhood, family, and human love in his life and in the parishes that provide the wonderful characters of his novels. This is exciting reading for anyone who is curious about the story behind this priest's controversial life and writing.
- What is it like to be a Catholic priest during the turbulent decades 60's through the 80's of the Catholic Church?
- What is it like to be a controversial and influential priest, deeply devoted to the Catholic tradition and at the same time vigorously critical of the timidity and insensitivity of the Church leadership?
- What is it like to outspokenly address such crucial issues as clerical celibacy and marriage, the impact of the birth-control encyclical on the laity, the systematic exclusion of the women religious from positions of power in the Church?
- What is it like to be a priest who turns to writing novels as a means of teaching religion and becomes enormously successful as a novelist?
- What is like to be a priest who is assailed by the ecclesiastical leadership precisely because his combination of professional social-science skill and immensely successful fiction makes him a threat?
- What is it like to be a priest so committed to the priesthood that he can say he will leave it the day after the Cardinal and the day after the Pope?
Father Andrew M. Greeley, priest, sociologist, journalist, and novelist---but most of all, priest---answers such questions. Those who are not Catholic as well as those who are will be fascinated by this inside story of contemporary Catholicism in crisis.