Reasonably interesting ephemera by Catholicism's equivalent of Isaac Asimov. In a hundred or so of his recent syndicated columns, ""People and Values,"" the irrepressible Fr. Greeley chats about sex, politics, religion, the Irish, and other matters close to his heart. Greeley has a semi-deserved reputation for being combative and controversial, thanks especially to his attacks on the Vatican and the late Cardinal Cody (not to mention his novels); but he's basically an apple-cheeked, all-American moderate--or, as he would say, ""commonsense liberal."" He wants to ordain women and lift the papal ban on birth control, but he mocks radical priests who agitate for revolution in the Third World when they can't preach a decent Sunday sermon. In his tender-minded Gaelic way, Greeley adores women, but his personal commitment to celibacy is unquestionable. He labels the American Catholic clergy, or a large part of it, immature and incompetent, but he loves the institutional Church. (At one point he puckishly suggests handing over the public school system to its care, noting that administrative overhead for N.Y.C.'s parochial schools is 20 times cheaper than for public schools.) Like any other successful columnist, Greeley writes pieces that are short, pithy, and upbeat. Whatever crises are threatening us, however odious the forces of prejudice, etc., he's confident that both the country and the Church will make it. People, particularly adolescents, are turning back to perennial values like religion and family life. Feminism (in its saner forms) is reeducating obtuse males. And, though he may bemoan the follies of his rightist and leftist fellow-believers, Greeley echoes J. R. Powers' dictum that ""It's as difficult to stop being Catholic as it is to stop being black."" Perky editorials, blending pragmatism, piety, and whimsy.