Andrew M(oran) Greeley Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Andrew M(oran) Greeley 1928–

American nonfiction writer, novelist, poet, and journalist.

Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, an educator, and a sociologist whose numerous studies of religion within modern society have earned him the reputation as an authority on the sociology of religion. His recent ventures into novel writing reveal yet another dimension of this Irish Catholic writer.

In his nonfiction Greeley writes about Catholics and their role in American society by delving into such topics as the effectiveness of Catholic education, the presence of anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States, and the value of ethnicity. His liberal opinions concerning ordination of women, birth control, and divorce have sometimes brought him into conflict with official Catholic doctrine. Much of his writing is based on data collected by The National Opinion Research Center with which he has been connected. While critics sometimes question his conclusions, most admit that Greeley stimulates discussion of neglected issues and that he often anticipates sociological trends. The Making of the Popes 1978 (1979), his diarylike record of the two papal elections of that year, is a revealing study of ecclesiastical politics. Critics praised the book for its lively, penetrating look behind the scenes but faulted it for its lack of focus and documentation.

Greeley's most popular novels are The Cardinal Sins (1981), Thy Brother's Wife (1982), and Ascent into Hell (1982). In these fast-paced, sensational narratives, Greeley fictionalizes the world of Irish Catholic politics and intrigue in Chicago.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed. and Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 7.)