by Peter Steinfels
“I suppose I have an Irish weakness for words gone wild,” Father Greeley once told The Times. “Besides, if you’re celibate, you have to do something.”
No Use for Elites
His ten best selling novels made him rich, though he gave his first million to charity and continued to give to various causes, including a donation, decades ago, to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, then a fledgling advocacy group.
Father Greeley had been an early and vehement advocate for victims of abusive priests at least since 1989, when he began writing articles in Chicago newspapers demanding that the church take action against pedophile priests. The public criticism angered the archdiocese and many fellow priests, but his outrage and proposals for reform were eventually recognized by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, among others, as prescient.
Father Greeley was not shy about his politics, a New Deal liberalism grounded in an acute sense of family and neighborhood. (One of his recent books was titled with typical directness, “A Stupid, Unjust and Criminal War: Iraq 2001-2007.”) Nor did he hide his devotion to his hometown Chicago Bears, Bulls and Cubs.
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