WHAT GOD HATH JOINED by Terrance A. Sweeney


The Real-Life Love Story that Shook the Catholic Church
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 A sentimental love story--from courtship to marriage--about a restless Jesuit priest and a successful but spiritually starved actress. In alternate chapters, Sweeney describes his struggles with the Church and Shoop explains how she waited for him to resolve them. Sweeney was no ordinary priest: He lived at L.A.'s Loyola Marymount University, had won five Emmys for his documentaries on L.A. street gangs, and was challenging the Church on female ordination, obedience, and the celibacy laws. Meanwhile, actress Shoop, between roles, visited Sweeney's church on New Year's Day 1984 and eventually became ``the other woman.'' As the priest tended to his duties (lovingly evoked here) and debated and equivocated over endless dinners, crises, and revelations, Shoop exhibited all the usual emotions of someone awaiting a loved one's divorce: patience, resentment, confusion, and loyalty. She devotes long passages to her father's memory; to what she wore (pale-pink, yellow, and black-lace panties); to what she didn't eat and what others did; to settings (lots of firelight and sunsets), stage directions (where people were sitting), and whatever music was playing at varied times. Sweeney's ministering to his own family- -despite his mother's denigration of him--is particularly interesting, as is the one scene that Shoop offers of her professional life: walking a tightrope for a circus scene in an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Sweeney--who's since left the priesthood--argues forcefully for abolishing celibacy laws that, he says, have no legitimacy and are depriving the Church of its most talented priests. The subject is timely, however treacly the style: a memoir very much in the manner and shadow of The Thorn Birds, on which Sweeney served as a technical advisor. (Eight page b&w photo insert--not seen)

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1993
ISBN: 0-345-38203-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993