WHITE SMOKE by Andrew M. Greeley


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 The pomp, circumstance, and ungodly intrigue attendant on the election of a new Pope provide a dramatic setting for this diverting, albeit message-laden, fiction from the prolific Father Greeley (Angel Light, 1995, etc.), It's the near future, and the incumbent Holy Father has gone to his heavenly reward, bringing a flock of cardinals to the Eternal City to choose a successor. Among them is Chicago's Sean, Cardinal Cronin, an influential hierarch who's convinced the Church needs a more liberal, less authoritarian prelate than the late pontiff. While he lobbies fellow electors on behalf of Luis, Cardinal Mendoza of Valencia, his crafty aide Auxiliary Bishop John Blackwood (Blackie) Ryan works the press. Among those Bishop Blackie recruits for the cause are New York Times reporter Dennis (Dinny) Molloy and his estranged wife, Patricia McLaughlin, a gorgeous redhead who is a star correspondent for CNN. But before the progressives can get their man into the Vatican, they must do battle with reactionary forces who will stop at nothing to preserve the status quo. In the meantime, Dinny (whom worldly-wise clerics have prodded along the path toward reconciliation with Patty) is investigating the possibility that an Italian wheeler-dealer may have lost millions out of the Apostolic See's patrimony. Despite the scandal uncovered by Dinny; constant controversy in the media, and ecclesiastic conclaves over sensitive issues (birth control, celibacy, the ordination of women, etc.); a kidnapping; unchristian conduct; and a host of other obstacles, white smoke finally issues from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling a new papacy and, perhaps, a turning point in Church history. Greeley doesn't shrink from using his narrative gifts to promote putatively greater goods, but the agreeable confection here is the easier to swallow for its leavening of cynical, secular takes on the doctrinal and political realities obtaining in one of the world's great religions. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-85814-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996


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