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The Priestly Sins Hardcover – April 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This extremely topical novel by the prolific author, priest and sociologist, has a particular perspective on the crisis facing the Church today; Greeley, who has been humanizing the Catholic hierarchy for readers of popular fiction for decades, makes it all too clear how and why pedophile priests were protected by their superiors, shuffled from parish to parish, allowed to victimize so many youngsters for so long--and are cointinuing to do so even now. Father Herman Hoffman, Greeley's sympathetic protagonist, is a whistle-blower whose efforts to do the right thing are so forcefully resisted by his superiors that his parish, his priesthood, and even his own faith are put to the test. In this somewhat wooden docudrama, the evil archbishop is routed, the bad priest dies, the good priest is promoted, the victims are avenged, and the road to the bestseller list paved with good intentions. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076531052X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765310521
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,213,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native of Chicago, Father Andrew M. Greeley, is a priest, distinguished sociologist and bestselling author. He is professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona, as well as Research Associate at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. His current sociological research focuses on current issues facing the Catholic Church-including celibacy of priests, ordination of women, religious imagination, and sexual behavior of Catholics.Father Greeley received the S.T.L. in 1954 from St. Mary of Lake Seminary. His graduate work was done at the University of Chicago, where he received the M.A. Degree in 1961 and the Ph.D. in 1962.Father Greeley has written scores of books and hundreds of popular and scholarly articles on a variety of issues in sociology, education and religion. His column on political, church and social issues is carried by the Chicago Sun Times and many other newspapers. He stimulates discussion of neglected issues and often anticipates sociological trends. He is the author of more than thirty bestselling novels and an autobiography, Furthermore!: Confessions of a Parish Priest.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on April 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Setting this powerful novel in the imaginary Archdiocese of Plains City, Fr. Andrew Greeley uses the Midwest as the setting for a chilling examination of the Church's long-time cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests. Though the book is fiction and the main character imaginary, all the details, according to the author, have actually happened somewhere in the United States. The novel opens with an eight-page "partial transcript" of the case of Todd Sweeney against the Church, a stunning testimony in which Fr. Herman "Hugh" Hoffman reveals that when he was a newly ordained "farm boy, six weeks into his first assignment," he responded to a child's screams and witnessed Father Leonard "Lucifer" Lyon assaulting Todd Sweeney. In surprisingly graphic detail Fr. Hoffman describes what he saw and the cover-up that evolved when he reported this crime to the Monsignor and Archbishop.
Having established all the above in the opening chapter, the author then examines the life of Hugh Hoffman from his childhood in a closely knit farm family through his school years, his genuine (and passionate) love for Kathleen Quinlan, with whom he had a two-year affair, and his college years. His self-examination, his fears, hopes, and recognition of his own failings, show realistically the evolution of this "farm boy" into a committed priest. A dramatic contrast with the pedophile priest, the author uses him to show how good priests, over the years, have had to reconcile the teachings of the Church with the imperfect reality of the Church's structure.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Those of you who have had the privilege of attending one of Rev. Greeley's lectures as he travels about the country know that his voice is both distinctive and compelling. In all probability, as a novice priest his training in the reading of scripture has added a timber, a luster, if you will to his speaking. From wherever this ability comes he possesses a voice that commands attention, which makes this audio edition of "The Priestly Sins" a particularly fine listening experience.
Using fiction as his pulpit Rev. Greeley addresses the sad story of sexual abuse by priests and the coverups perpetrated by church officials. He tellingly imagines the story of a young priest, Herman Hoffman, and his experiences after seeing a fellow priest abuse a child.
One needs look no further than Rev. Greeley's website to find his stance on the subject of abuse within the church. He writes: "I have, for the record, been warning Church leadership since 1985 that it was "sitting on an atom bomb" created by the reassignment of abusing priests. One victim of a priest is one too many. One reassigned abuser is one too many. The number of abusing priests (1205) and victims (4268), is horrific."
As in the past whether the subject was the celibacy of priests, the infallibility of the Pope, or the ordination of women, Rev. Greeley speaks with refreshing candor and intelligence. It would do us all well to listen.
- Gail Cooke
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on April 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
THE PRIESTLY SINS by Andrew M. Greeley
Andrew Greeley's latest novel, THE PRIESTLY SINS, details a fictional account of a sexual abuse case involving the Roman Catholic Church. Greeley's appeal to his readers is probably the warm characters that he introduces in his books. In this particular novel, the reader meets Father Herman "Hugh" Hoffman, a very likable man who finds himself in the middle of this big controversy, as a witness to a rape of a young altar boy by a fellow priest.
The book is somewhat uneven in tone due to the interspersing of newspaper articles that are used to help follow the progress of this case. However, THE PRIESTLY SINS is mostly a story about the life of Father Hoffman, and the events that lead up to his involvement in this abuse case. Told in a very light hearted manner, Hoffman narrates the story of his childhood, his involvement with his childhood sweetheart Kathleen, and the path that led him to the priesthood.
It's difficult to say which is more interesting, Hoffman's life story, or the actual sexual abuse case that he was a witness to. Both plot lines were of big interest to this reader. An additional plus to this book is the appearance of the famous Blackie Ryan, Greeley's most popular character. I have yet to read a Blackie Ryan novel, but I will definitely look these up, after having read THE PRIESTLY SINS. I wouldn't mind too much to read another novel centering on Father Hoffman, as he is another very likeable character. THE PRIESTLY SINS gets 4 stars from this reviewer. A very enjoyable and readable book, it's a great introduction to the novels of Andrew Greeley.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Greeley portrays a clean-cut image of a young Catholic priest against the backdrop of his tangential involvement in a sex abuse incident. The story contains two well-developed and sympathetic characters -- a boy and the girl next door -- and how they grow up together and support each other. We get a strong dose of Greeley's sociology about the statistical nature of priestly sex abuse. But, even that is enjoyable and reassuring, in that it puts the problem within a well-defined and managable boundary.
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