Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear

Michael O’Loughlin. Broadleaf, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5064-6770-2
Journalist O’Loughlin debuts with an engrossing history of the Catholic Church’s response to the AIDS crisis in the U.S. and the efforts of priests and nuns who were “willing to jeopardize their own ministry and reputation and stand with LGBT Catholics.” O’Loughlin, who identifies as gay and Catholic, weaves his own struggles “to reconcile these two parts of my identity” into the narrative, which highlights tensions between “an institutional faith [that] could be so homophobic” and the concern for the marginalized at the heart of Catholic teachings. He documents disagreements over whether Church officials and Catholic hospitals could promote condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, and draws on extensive interviews with Catholic caregivers including Father Bill McNichols, a gay Jesuit priest and artist who clashed with Church leaders over his advocacy of LGBTQ worshippers. Amid the raw, emotional depictions of suffering and abandonment, moments of hope emerge, including the Dignity movement’s hosting of a Mass for people with AIDS and their loved ones in 1983, Mother Teresa’s opening of an AIDS hospice at St. Veronica’s Church in Greenwich Village in 1985, and nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital’s emergence as a leading AIDS treatment center (though O’Loughlin notes the irony that the hospital has since been “chopped up and developed into expensive condos”). This poignant account shines a well-deserved spotlight on Catholics who chose compassion over fear. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/10/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-5064-6771-9
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