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    Review of THE PRIESTLY SINS by Andrew M. Greeley (see his website)

    Forge, April 2004

    Herman Hoffman thought his hardest task would be to decide between his love for the beautiful Irish-American Kathleen and his calling to the church. And that was a difficult choice. But what he found once he'd entered the priesthood was worse. When Hoffman blew the whistle on a fellow priest he caught in the act of raping a teenaged boy, Hoffman was committed to a mental institution, kept doped for months, and finally sent to graduate school as a form of exile. Still, Hoffman fights for his calling--against all of the pressure that the power of the Archbishopric can bring.

    Author Andrew M. Greeley (see also mysteries by Greeley) deals with one of the most explosive issues facing the Catholic Church in America--the fact of priestly abuse and the even more serious fact of high-ranking cover-up. For decades, anyone who stood for the truth was hounded from the church, boycotted, shunned, and even committed. And the church that Greeley exposes (Greeley is a Catholic priest) is rife with all of the sins that the newspapers cover. But it remains a church of hope. And Father Hoffman stands as a positive example of what people of faith can do.

    Greeley is a talented author and his strong writing brings to life the emotional growth of Hoffman from youth to accepting his calling, his struggles once he'd witnessed the rape (including support from Greeley's beloved sleuth Bishop Blackey), and the story of the Volga Deutsche (Germans who came to America by way of a century or so spent on the plains of Russia after being invited there during Peter the Great's western push). Greeley shares his mystical vision of the church in an interesting way with the spirit of Hoffman's long-dead great grandmother playing a significant role.

    Fans of Greeley's mysteries and love stories will want to savor this more complex tale.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/15/04

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