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Historical Research; The Key to Making Readers Believers

Remember the days of sitting in a library going through old books, looking up facts…

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The Cardinal Sins is a beautiful novel published in the early 80’s by Andrew M. Greeley. The plot is about two lifelong friends, rich Kevin Brennan and poor Patrick Donahue who decide to enter the seminar, but the family status is only the first difference between them. For Kevin, becoming a priest was a conscious well- thought decision. However, by the end of high school, Patrick wasn’t sure about what to do with his life. The idea of following his friend’s path came to him as an epiphany, as he described it, while he was lying on his back with his girlfriend near a lake and looking at the sky.

Seminar proved hard for both young men, and that’s where the institution of the church started to separate the weed from the wheat. Kevin Brennan had his faith and his books and became a scholar. On the other hand, Patrick Donahue seemed to have a score to settle with life, and his ambition lead his maneuvering raising the ladder until finally becoming the next Cardinal in Chicago.

For a plot about two priests, you’d be surprised to discover each of them had a sweetheart in high school, and later in life, they played critical roles in the plot. Patrick hooked up with Kevin’s cousin Maureen Cunningham. Kevin didn’t think much of Ellen Foley when she was assigned to him

smart and touting young lady. She stole a piece of his heart, the rest of it, belonged to the Catholic Church.

The book combines elements of drama, action sequences, plenty of suspense, all interlaced with some real-life historical events that rocked the world, particularly those at the end of the 70’s. The action starts in 1948 but covers thirty years, all the way to the election of Pope John Paul the First. As some may remember, John Paul the First had a very short papacy, the shortest in recent history when he was found dead merely months after taking the high office of Shepard of the Church.

Andrew M. Greeley was born on February 5, 1928, and ordained as a priest in 1952. He passed away in 2013 after a life as a scholar, an advocate for child’s rights and consummate author of over 120 books, both fiction and nonfiction. He also had papers published about theology.

He lived his life battling for the things he believed were right. Writing gave him a voice that he used for good, even donating the proceedings from his work to charity, including Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

In 2008, he had an accident with a taxi as it pulled away and he ended with a fractured skull. His health diminished in the years following until his death in 2013 at the age of 85. His family confirmed he had died in his sleep and his body found the next morning.

The Cardinal Sins was Father Greeley’s third novel and the first one to achieve commercial success. The title serves as a double entendre since the Seven Deadly Sins as observed by the Roman Catholic Church, are known as Cardinal Sins, and the story deals with the sins of Cardinal Patrick Donahue.

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist; however, he ironically prefers to write fiction. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he enjoys to throw in a twist of romance on occasion. He has published three acclaimed novels and is a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild, and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor for their official e-zine The Big Thrill.