A searing indictment of the faithful against a church that has failed their faith, with legendary New York newsman Breslin driving the nails into the cathedral door.
Breslin (The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutiérrez, 2002, etc.) opens, as ever, provocatively: the Catholic Church is led by a pope who “has four subjects on his mind: abortion, abortion, abortion, and Poland”; the Catholic Church has committed gross crimes by knowingly sheltering perpetrators of crime, sexual and otherwise; the Catholic Church has thrown up false gods; the Catholic Church has forgotten the Catholic religion. So, he proposes, he’ll start a new religion, one with women priests and married heterosexual priests and a vision of a working-class Christ with no taste for fine raiment and golden trappings, with Breslin himself serving to open “the first new Catholic parish in my diocese of Brooklyn since 1972”—and taking a choice job in it. “I qualify for the rank of bishop,” he explains, “because I’m not a pedophile.” Bishop Breslin qualifies, too, because he’s Irish, and the Irish are the real rocks on which the Church is built (as opposed, he suggests, again controversially, to the Mafiosi who run the thing, at least in New York and Rome). He qualifies because he attends Mass weekly, has put in more time examining its wrongs (and occasional rights) than most working cardinals, has logged countless hours exposing the bodies under the rectory rugs, “so many . . . that walking into the diocese offices was risky for the ankles.” He qualifies because he cares. There’s not an ounce of modesty—or irony—in the proposal, and as Breslin delivers his list of charges against the Church his anger and righteous indignation mount, till by the end of this donnybrook of a book, having cited case after case of crime and betrayal, he’s in a fine and furious lather, feeling very much, he allows, like Christ among the moneychangers in the temple.
The authorities will cry foul, but you can bet American Catholics will be reading and discussing Breslin’s latest—and justly so.