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The Priestly Sins: A Novel
The Priestly Sins: A Novel
The Priestly Sins: A Novel
Audiobook (abridged)6 hours

The Priestly Sins: A Novel

Written by Andrew M. Greeley

Narrated by Oliver Wyman

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

Not since his runaway bestseller, The Cardinal Sins, has Father Andrew Greeley written such a searing and topical novel about the state of the Catholic Church

The Priestly Sins tells the story of Father Herman Hoffman, a gifted and innocent young man, who becomes swept up in "the Crisis" after witnessing child abuse in his first parish appointment. Soon, he is vilified for denouncing a priest who has been "cleared." He suffers the harsh fate of a whistle-blower when his Archdiocese has him committed to a mental health center. After his release, Father Hoffman is exiled by the Church to Chicago were he begins his graduate studies in immigrant history. There he encounters the legendary Monsignor Blackie Ryan, who helps him regain his confidence and demand a parish of his own. Reluctantly, the Church hierarchy assigns him to a dying parish. With zeal and charm,
he revives the local church. His brief idyll is shattered by a subpoena to testify in a court hearing. If he speaks he will have to once again take on the establishment that is determined to destroy him. He faces exile not only from his parish but from the priesthood itself.

Release dateApr 1, 2004
The Priestly Sins: A Novel

Andrew M. Greeley

Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages. Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment. Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore! In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, “The Church in Society,” at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954. Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago. Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

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Reviews for The Priestly Sins

Rating: 3.4 out of 5 stars

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  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    I like this book. But unless you also read along you won't get all of it. At least part of the opening testimony is edited out.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Fiction but with contemporary themes of clericalism and sexual abuse with church politics and coverup thrown in. Hugh Hoffman, from a good Russian German midwestern family, is the main character. His life is followed as he finds his true love and becomes a priest. He witnesses a crime in which he eventually testifies after many years. A very timely, fictional, kind love story.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    THE PRIESTLY SINS, by Andrew Greeley.I bought this 2004 book at a library sale for half a buck. Worth every penny, and maybe a little more. I'd never read anything by Andrew Greeley, although I knew about him. A Catholic priest who was often at the center of controversy, Greeley wrote dozens of books, including several novels like this one, as well as a series of mysteries starring Bishop Blackie Ryan (a la the Father Dowling mysteries, I suspect), and many others. I was sad to find that Greeley died in 2013, because I would have liked to have contacted him and talked about writers and books. Would have asked him if he was a fan of Ralph McInerny's Dowling books, or if he'd read the same author's now nearly forgotten potboiler, THE PRIEST - a book I read and enjoyed back in the 70s. Or, certainly, J.F. Powers's work, especially his darkly comic classic, MORTE D'URBAN.In any case, THE PRIESTLY SINS was a most entertaining and near-gripping sort of story, with a most likeable and very human protagonist in Father Herman Hugh Hoffmann, whose life story we pretty much get here. Hugh grew up in a loving Volga Deutsche, or Russian German, family in the Prairie State - obviously Illinois, Greeley's own stomping ground. We learn of his youthful affair with a red-haired Irish Girl, Kathleen, and then of his strong vocation and commitment to the priesthood. The crux of the story is how Hugh becomes a whistle-blower on a fellow priest who is a serial and sadistic pedophile; how the Archdiocese turns on Hugh, ostracizes him and tries - natch - to brush it all under the rug. It's a great story, Greeley is a fine writer and a masterful storyteller.The story was marred only by a kitschy twist of Hugh 'seeing' a long-dead great grandmother here and there at various times, an attempt to lend the tale a supernatural or ghost-story effect, I suppose. I just found it annoying and dumb, and tried to overlook it. Otherwise a very good book, one that brought to mind Canadian author Linden MacIntyre's Nova Scotia trilogy with its middle book, THE BISHOP'S MAN (which I think is a better book than Greeley's). But if you want an entertaining and thought-provoking book about the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals, here's a good one. Highly recommended.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    The controversial novel tells the story of Father Herman Hugh Hoffman, a gifted and aspiring young man (who always strives to be a good priest though not always succeeds because everyone sins) from the imaginary prairies of the Great Plains. In the first summer of his first parish appointment, Hoffman witnessed child abuse by a fellow priest Lenny Lyon in the parish rectory. He reported to the pastor, the bishop, the father of the victim, and the local police but was only rebuffed by the archbishop. What followed was such preposterous drama that sent Father Hoffman to an exile at a mental institution. The church vilified Father Hoffman for his denouncing a gifted priest favored partially by the archbishop and cleared by police. Soon the church went as far as portraying Hoffman as an allegedly gay priest who reported his homosexual fantasy as a fact. Under the fire from his fellow priests for selling out the church to appear and testify in court, the Archdiocese deplored all sexual abuse and claimed to have solid evidence that the plaintiff paid Father Hoffman to testify against the church.The novel exposes the viciousness with which church authorities shun taking responsibility for serious felony. The so-called victim's advocate acted as the archbishop's official bishop who beated down resistance of the victim's family and exhorted them to settle the case. The church peremptorily denounced Hoffman's testimony but quailed to admit the truth that Lenny Lyon was dying of AIDS and, what's more, at whose funeral the church denied it was AIDS and blamed the affliction on the stress Hoffman started. The case evinces that the diocese had systematically and deliberately, through the church hierarchy, covered up sexual abuse and punished those who tried to report such crime. The Priestly Sins leaves us a judgment of the crisis: that those who might seem to be the worst sinners are not the predators like Lenny Lyon (who actually repented and was anointed before his last breath), but other priests and church authorities who know about what the predators have done and remain silent and even defend them out of wounded pride. In another words, the novel has afforded a glimpse to the ongoing debate on celibacy practiced by priests. Whether celibate or not, abuse is caused by a syndrome that is deeply rooted in a personality disorder. The Priestly Sins, with its fictional setting and characters, conveys an air of verisimilitude to the church crisis.