THE CARDINAL by Henry Morton Robinson
Kirkus Star

THE CARDINAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

**An extraordinary book a sure best seller -- a book foreordained to be one of the most controversial books of the year -- a book that combines the qualities and appeal of Gronala's KEYS OF THE KINGDOM and Sinclair's Lanny Budd series. First, it is first rate story telling and characterization that has enormous appeal, though not total conviction. Second, it has an immediacy in setting, in problems, in intimate relation to issues with which newspaper and periodical readers are concerned, that repeatedly has proved its popularity. Third, in its spiritual values, the handling of the material carries tremendous power of interpretation and conviction. In the story of a priest, son of a street car conductor, member of a large and variously individual family, the successive steps of his career, from overworked curtain in a city (Boston) parish, to Cardinal, carry the reader through virtually every phase that the Catholic priesthood confronts, against the background of a half century of our own times. Father Steve has human frailities, that he meets them on a spiritual level and overcomes them conveys its own message. Disciplined by his superiors, penalized by his confessors, convicted by his own mind and soul, he grows in gra and strength, as he becomes priest of a forlornly hopeless outpost and finds servi to his people an integral portion of his responsibility in a material world. Twice his assignment has trappings of grandeur Monsignor in Vatican City, secretary to the Apostolic Delegate in Washington and each time what might have become pride meets its own punishment. As Bishop of ""Hartfield"" he goes through the gruelling experience of fortunes in a country torn by crisis, in a world hovering on the brink of catastrophe. As the story ends, he has been appointed Cardinal, and has cast his first vote in a Papal election. But the absorbing interest in the story lies not in the seven steps of his but in the very human aspects of his story, in his part in a family that affords almost every expression of human experience, in the relations with others that his humanity gives play to and in the controversial issues and his way of meeting them, in work and deed. This book cannot be disregarded as a propaganda vehicle. At almost every turn, the position of the Church is strengthened by analysis, emphasis and example. Most of the moot questions, the arguments used against it, are met, head-on:- ""therapeutic abortion"" termed ""baby killing"" by the Catholic Church; birth control; relation of church and state and the challenge to office holders of relative authority; ""miracles"", their validity and handling; church finances; interdenominational relationship; intermarriage; the relations of the Homan See to the American church; the use of secular agencies to fight their battles; these are but a few of the facets that will rouse controversy and some antagonism. In the main, the position taken through the person of Father Stephen is a fairly liberal and modern one. The Boston College controversy and the position of the College is reflected though not specifically identified. The book has implications that are social, economic, political as well as religious. There's plenty of action here, and Father Stephen is a wholly masculine, vital figure heroic in stature -- all that a priest should be.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1950
Publisher: Simon & Schuster