Fr. Andrew Greeley

Okay, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t go here, but I can’t really find any place else. I hope the mod’s will move this thread to the proper forum if necessary.

I have read a couple of Fr. Greeley’s books, specifically the Making of a Pope (2005) and Priests: A Calling in Crisis (2004) and am not quite sure what to think. My general impression is that he is more liberal caling himself an ‘agnostic’ on issues like birth control and reffering to God as ‘She’. Then he turns around and is critical on things like marrige for priests and womens ordination. What are your thoughts on this priest?

Sounds like he’s a victim of liberation theology. Pray for the priest.

Liberation theology

One word: ugh.

Well, I could say a few more words, but suffice to say he is a walking scandal. That is about it.

Andrew Greeley was a sociologist and the focus of his study was the culture of the modern American Catholic Church. He was a priest in good standing when he died, but he was also a gadfly throughout his career and a prolific author. It was said, half in jest, that Andrew Greeley never had an unpublished thought, and once his novels were published, this was amended to include, or fantasy. Andrew Greeley raised questions for which he seldom had adequate answers (reflecting the American Church in this regard), but he did have a profound faith that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church through whatever confusion she encounters. Greeley was rather courageous in asking some his questions, especially in the confusion wrought by the huge cultural changes that took place in the American Church in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, but in the end he became something of a joke among American Catholics and lost some of the respect he had during his earlier years. One thing about Andrew Greeley though. He was never boring.

Trinitaes is a feminine noun in Latin. God is neither male nor female, let’s not get too hung up on gender.

i read a couple of his fiction only and thought he’s alright.


God has revealed himself as Father and Son. And Christ is definitely male, as he was Incarnate as a male. Therefore, it is improper to refer to God as “she.”

Father Greeley is still very much alive.

Thread moved to Popular Media where it better belongs.

Father Greeley is still alive but much impaired and brain-damaged.
He was in an accident last fall and there’s doubt he’ll fully recover.

I’ve never read his fiction, having heard so much negativity about it.

Because in Latin words all have gender, masculine, feminine and neutral. It is grammatical gender.

I know Italian, the word for house is “casa” which is feminine. House could also be “domicilio” which is masculine. It doesn’t mean that a house is a boy or girl.

I read two of his novels years ago. (I guess I was in my late teens, early twenties) They are similar in prose I guess to Sidney Sheldon’s style.

The priests he features are usually torn between trying to serve the Church, and falling in love with a woman, being confused between etc. They were somewhat melodramatic.

(please take into consideration I read them almost 20 ears ago…my memory might not be that good)

Unless he’s changed his views recently, he supports women’s ordination. He is rather proud of being one of the few pro-WO people (he claimed to be the only one but this may be an exaggeration) who believes in priestly celibacy.

I’m not sure why you are so surprised that people don’t always fit into neat liberal-conservative boxes. One would hope that people would maintain what they believe to be true (and in the case of Catholics and other members of doctrinally well-defined religious communities, what they believe to be a faithful and orthodox interpretation of the traditions of their community), whether it fits people’s politically derived stereotypes or not!


While I found his foray into Science Fiction (The Final Planet) to be an excellent work, I find that I agree with his bishop: it’s scandalous for a priest to be writing stories with Female Catholic Bishops. In essence, he’s predicting a slide into a heresy, one determined by Ecumenical Council in the 1st milenium. It was then determined that women could be ordained only to the order of the Deaconess; the only known duties of the deaconess in the time were baptism and preaching to women.

Some of his works are quite tame, in the sense that they do not advocate heresy.

A Christmas Wish is excellent, compelling, and presents a fair view of Russian Orthodoxy. And throughout, it rings of orthodoxy. (Intentional pun.) He could have, however, told a nearly identical tale using the Ukrainian Catholics instead of the Russian Orthodox, and not only bolstered knowledge of the Eastern Catholics, but avoided his protagonist exhibiting indifferentism.

Oh, its not not that I’m surprised, in that it’s a big shock. I was just not quite sure what Fr. Greeley’s views were, or whether he had been at any point ‘told off’ by the Church, so I wanted some other views. I need to recheck the WO thing, because I seem to recall him saying that he wasn’t sure whether WO or changing the celibacy rule would help anything. I took it to mean that he was not in favour of WO or changing the rule. It is unusual that he is in favour of WO but not changing the rule. Usually people are both or neither. I can’t say I’ve met someone with Fr. Greeley’s view.

Fr. Andrew Greeley first came to my attention while I was in college in the 70’s. He’s a Sociologist using his scientific data collection and analysis skills to describe and quantitative the actions and behaviors of Catholics, especially American Catholics. Don’t shoot the messenger as he just tells it like it is. He started writing “trashy novels” which are not dirty but tried to combine reoccurring themes-a murder mystery, a middle aged Catholic priest/part-time detective, Fr. Blackie Ryan, and some people from Fr. Blackie’s past such as a high school classmate who married Fr. Blackie’s prom date. Fr. Blackie clearly describes that he’s a heterosexual man who still admires the feminine body and psyche as God’s great mystery and gift. The stories always clarify some point of dogma and explain the Eucharist in such devoted and insightful ways.
I deeply admire Fr. Greeley’s scholastic works in sociology and I’ve enjoyed his “trashy novels”. He always makes me so blessed and happy to be Catholic, no matter which genre’ he writes.

Father Greeley has had success as a novelist and as a sociologist. I think he may have been one of the first if not the first, to coin the term “cultural Catholic” or “communal Catholic” to describe that part of the nominal Catholic population which considers itself Catholic but does not accept the Church’s doctrines on such things as contraception.

In some ways, unfortunately, he is sort of a typical 1970’s-generation priest with rather liberal theological views. I recall at some point he made the remark that he could never expect to be assigned to higher duties in the Church other than as a parish priest, as long as he kept writing the kind of novels which he did.

I haven’t really kept up with his career for some time. My own view is that the theological views he espoused are being supplanted by a more orthodox generation of new priests who see that sort of thing as they might view Woodstock–quaint, but past time to move on.

Fr. Greeley’s foray into Science Fiction, the Final Planet, was excellent, but shows him predicting several strongly heterodox things, including a female bishop, female priests, and some other issues.

His christmas-themed novel was likewise well written, but could just as easily have used a UGCC parish rather than Russian Orthodox… it comes across as a wonderful recruiting tool for the OCA…

Do you mean Star Bright?

In fairness to Fr. Greeley (God grant him Many Years!), Star Bright as well as The Bishop at THE University grew out of his sociological research on the revival of religious faith behind the former Iron Curtain, especially Russian Orthodoxy, as well as probably related curiosity about Orthodoxy closer to home, including a traveling display of material artifacts mostly from “Russian Orthodoxy” in Alaska and Siberia that hit Chicago and elsewhere during the '90s ( – hence the OCA allusions in Star Bright. Sociologically speaking, I would surmise that Russian Orthodoxy in the former USSR is easier to study ‘big-picture’ than the UGCC, being far larger … just like for most of his career studying ‘big-picture’ religion here in the States (and for most sociologists of religion here), it was just “Catholicism,” “Protestantism,” and by necessity, Judaism, i.e., none of their subdivisions. (He and Hout made an attempt of breaking down Protestantism into different major denominations and movements in their recent socio. study The Truth About Conservative Christians.) These aren’t put-downs by me, merely how that kind of socio. is done AFAIK (and I am not a sociologist, just an amateur).


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