Confessions of a Parish Priest

Although the multiple careers of Father Andrew Greeley might at first seem incongruously linked, there is a common thread: Above all, he is a “storyteller.” Religion itself is fundamentally storytelling, he suggests: “Religion is the set of answers a person has available to the fundamental questions of the meaning of life and love, answers which are normally encoded in pictures, images, and stories.” In this his own story, Greeley begins by tracing some of the dreaming innocence of his early childhood in Chicago and at Twin Lakes in the 1930’s. His seminary days in the pre-Vatican II Church seem almost medieval today, but the reader also sees Greeley’s personal growth as the Church suddenly began to change around him.

His training as a sociologist and talent as a writer put Greeley in a unique position to analyze these sweeping changes. Over the years he has written columns, articles, and some fifty nonfiction books, gaining a reputation as a “square peg” with his questioning and probing. Recently, he has also become a highly successful and controversial novelist with five or six best-sellers, including CARDINAL SINS and THY BROTHER’S WIFE.

As Greeley tells his story, he touches on many related subjects. He is unsparingly critical of clerical mediocrity and envy. He provides some telling insights into the Church in Chicago during the Cardinal Cody days. He defends his own novels and in the process gives a fascinating glimpse into the way he comes to create his stories.

In all, this is a compelling autobiography, the story of a priest who loves being a man, and a man who loves being a priest. It includes insights along the way into theology, church politics, and the world of creative writing. Well written and primarily upbeat in tone, it is enjoyable reading.