Fr. Andrew Greeley is pictured in a 1985 photo during a reception in his honour in Chicago. CNS photo/courtesy of the Catholic New World

Fr. Greeley, the happy warrior, got one big thing wrong

  • June 6, 2013

There are those priests who write — columns, novels, academic papers, books — and then there was Fr. Andrew Greeley. He wrote. Certainly too much, but the Lord made him a writer, so he wrote, and he can hardly be blamed for that. Some 5,000 words a day for a very long time, turning out serious sociological research on the Catholic experience in America, analysing survey data as a long time scholar with the respected National Opinion Research Centre. He wrote a newspaper column for the Catholic press for decades. And there were his dozens of novels — tens of millions of copies in print — bestselling yarns that included the infamous sex scenes that rather made him famous among the elite media who think that celibates know nothing about sex.

“Greeley always insisted the sex scenes were nothing more than the product of his imagination,” wrote John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter upon his death. “He never broke his vow of celibacy, he said, and as a sociologist, he said hard empirical data confirm that celibate priests who enjoy their work are among the happiest people on Earth.”

Fr. Greeley died on May 29 at age 85. I have no doubt that he died, even after years of infirmity, as he lived his most robust life — as a happy priest. He never wanted to be anything other than a priest, he loved being a priest and he was a priest first and last, despite all the other things he did.

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