A Whiskey Priest
A Whiskey Priest who, though never named, goes sometimes under the assumed name of Montez. For eight years a fugitive from the anticlerical regime in a small Mexican province, the Whiskey Priest has managed occasionally to celebrate mass, to baptize children, and to say the last rites for the dying. His great failing is drink, though he has also committed adultery in the town of Concepción, where he had his last parish. Pride and slothfulness have played an equal part in making him the last cleric in the province; he feels the honor of martyrdom, and he simply exists without a plan for escape. Finally, he is humbled by the knowledge that he is loved and protected wherever he goes, and the sacrifice of hostages for his surrender fixes in his mind a plan of escape. Yet he is not a free agent, and he falls into what he knows is a trap when called upon to administer the last rites to an American gunman. Freely admitting his cowardice and lack of vision, the priest dies with the sure knowledge that he has loved and discharged his duties with a semblance of dignity.
Father José (hoh-SEH), a defrocked priest who marries and renounces his religion. Obviously a coward, he refuses any participation in the religion he so easily gave up and so much regrets. He is the laughingstock of a village as the victim of an ill-tempered wife whose sexual entreaties symbolize the degradation to which he has fallen. Without any humanitarian impulses, he refuses to hear the confession...
(The entire section is 641 words.)