Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fr. Andrew Greeley, sociologist and priest-novelist, dies at 85 | National Catholic Reporter

Fr. Andrew Greeley, sociologist and priest-novelist, dies at 85 | National Catholic Reporter:

by John L. Allen

The progressive Catholic values of the 1960s informed Greeley's approach, both to secular politics and to the church. Over the years, he supported ordaining married men and women as priests, attacked what he saw as the inflated power of the Vatican, and railed against what he termed the "original sin" of clerical culture: envy. He was no less a lefty in secular terms; his last nonfiction book was titled A Stupid, Unjust and Criminal War: Iraq 2001-2007.

Yet Greeley was very much his own man, unafraid to skewer nostrums of the left just as much as those of the right. He was critical of liberation theology ("It was a terrible mistake to get in bed with Marxism"), some strains of feminism ("If you define reality as a class conflict between men and women, you'll never get out of it unless men surrender"), and Catholic pacifists such as Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan ("We're still friends, but I completely disagreed with his tactics during the war"). He repeatedly asserted that anti-Catholicism remained one of the few fashionable prejudices left in America.

Though Greeley denounced clerical sex abuse as early as the mid-1980s, he was also fiercely critical of what he saw as exaggerated criticism of the church from some organized victims' groups. He asserted in 2002 that these activists "probably would not be satisfied if the Vatican had mandated castration for every priest in the nation."

Prominent among Greeley's passions was his love affair with his own hometown. He was a classic example of what Chicagoans call a "lifer," meaning someone who might travel far and wide, but who never felt at home anywhere other than the Windy City. Greeley was an avid fan of the Bulls, Bears and Cubs, and his trademark literary creation, Blackie Ryan, typically sported a Chicago Bulls windbreaker.

At the end of the day, Greeley saw his wide-ranging literary endeavors as a service to the church, whether Catholic officialdom was always prepared to see it that way or not.

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