Greeley's experience as both a priest with 50 years of service to the Catholic Church and as a bestselling storyteller (The Cardinal Sins
, etc.) perfectly equips him to take on the difficult subject of sexual abuse and its ensuing coverup. Greeley makes his position quite clear: "those who might seem to be the worst sinners are not the predators possessed by their own uncontrollable urges, but other priests who know about what the predators have done and remain silent or even defend them out of mistaken loyalty. And still worse are the bishops and bureaucrats who hide the truth...." Greeley builds his case and his fiction on the life of Herman Hugo Hoffman, whose Russian German forebears were farmers in the plains states of Midwestern America. His is a gentle story of growing up in a rural, close-knit family among other like-minded immigrant families in the town of Lincoln Junction. Herman's feisty, red-haired neighbor Katherine inserts herself into his family at age eight and grows up to be his best friend and lover until he enters the priesthood. The sweet story of Herman and Katherine is framed by the trial of child abuser Father Lenny "Lucifer" Lyon, whom Herman, several years before, walked in on while the priest was brutally raping young parishioner Todd Sweeney. The bulk of the novel is a study of Herman's calling and rise to the priesthood, and it's an affecting story. This is a well-told tale of love and courage that makes its valuable point without resorting to unnecessary violence or cheap and easy shock effects. It's fiction, but for anyone interested in the ongoing controversy it's a must-read. (Apr.)
:Good title, nice cover, timely topic, $250,000 marketing campaign—this could be a bestseller for Greeley. The author will present a nonfiction take on the subject in a forthcoming book
, Priests in the Pressure Cooker.